The Ones Who Stay - QuietDarkness (2024)

Table of Contents
Chapter 1: “Are you two insane?!” Chapter Text Chapter 2: “I owe you a coffee.” Chapter Text Chapter 3: ‘Maybe you should do something about that.’ Chapter Text Chapter 4: “My lips are sealed.” Chapter Text Chapter 5: “What did you do last night?” Chapter Text Chapter 6: “Are you always this blunt?” Chapter Text Chapter 7: "I'm so excited for you." Chapter Text Chapter 8: “I want all of that with you, too.” Chapter Text Chapter 9: "I plan to." Chapter Text Chapter 10: ‘See you soon, Harry.’ Chapter Text Chapter 11: “Why do you have so many pillows?” Chapter Text Chapter 12: “Lead the way, Ramon.” Chapter Text Chapter 13: “So where are we going?” Chapter Text Chapter 14: "You’re sure about this, Ramon?” Chapter Text Chapter 15: “Make me useless, Harry.” Chapter Text Chapter 16: “I think that’s the new deal.” Chapter Text Chapter 17: "Tell me everything." Chapter Text Chapter 18: "Stop being so blunt." Chapter Text Chapter 19: “Best uncles ever, remember?” Chapter Text Chapter 20: “I’m having a fantastic time.” Chapter Text Chapter 21: “Now you’re just trying to torture me.” Chapter Text Chapter 22: “She’s going to be fine.” Chapter Text Chapter 23: “Is that a Magic 8-ball?” Chapter Text Chapter 24: “Where did that come from?” Chapter Text Chapter 25: “We have been a bit vigorous.” Chapter Text Chapter 26: “What, you don’t think we have enough willpower?” Chapter Text Chapter 27: “Tell Cisco I said hello.” Chapter Text Chapter 28: “The flowers, Harry!” Chapter Text Chapter 29: “Not without you.” Chapter Text Chapter 30: "Please let me." Chapter Text Chapter 31: “I’ll move again when you answer the question.” Chapter Text Chapter 32: “I’m not my father.” Chapter Text Chapter 33: “Ooh, Cisco one, Harry zero.” Chapter Text Chapter 34: “I will have you know, I make a mean bowl of cereal.” Chapter Text Chapter 35: “Breakfast of champions.” Chapter Text Chapter 36: “You might just wear me down.” Chapter Text Chapter 37: “Are we going to make it?” Chapter Text Chapter 38: “Tell me what you want right now.” Chapter Text Chapter 39: “Mm hm, yup. I want that.” Chapter Text Chapter 40: “What do you want to do now?” Chapter Text Chapter 41: “You’ve been here since last night?” Chapter Text Chapter 42: “You’re really enjoying this.” Chapter Text

Chapter 1: “Are you two insane?!”

Chapter Text

“You don’t get to decide when we’re done, Cisco.”

He felt another kick to his ribs, and this time he felt like something inside his chest had twisted sharply inward. He could taste blood mixed with something gritty working its way up his throat.

“I decide when we’re done.”

There was another kick, but this time to his head. It spun him completely, forcing his head off the corner of the cabinet with a sickening thwack, and then onto his stomach. And for a moment, he couldn’t see properly as a new pain enveloped his entire skull, unreal movement stuck in his peripherals. For another moment, he thought he saw his own shadow running away. Air wasn’t working in and out of his chest properly anymore, he could feel the gurgling.

“And we’re never going to be done.”

He felt a hand drag across his hip, nails stinging into his skin, yanking at his pajama pants as the other pushed against the back of his head, forcing him to choke out a breath and turn his face to the side. He felt the pressure of a body on top of his, of something familiar and hard pressing against his rear.

“Which is why you’re going to lay right here while I give us both what we need. And when I’m done, Cisco, we’ll move on. Together.”

He could barely process what happened next. He wasn’t sure he was feeling anything anymore. He could see blood pooling around his own head, deep red and thick. And laying on the floor in front of his fridge was a magazine article and the ladybug magnet that had been holding it up, bug eyes staring back at him as though it knew something he didn’t. But he wasn’t entirely focused on the magnet. He was trying to focus on the article, and the picture with Harrison Wells standing in front of S.T.A.R. Labs. He wanted to remember his face, to hold on to the thought of something better than everything that was happening now because…

Cisco was going to die. Right there on his kitchen floor. At the hands of a monster.

And there was nothing he could do to stop it…

* * *

Harry's ears were ringing. He felt heavy, weighted down by something, the air around him was thick with smoke, he could taste blood in his mouth, and the sound of various alarms blaring all around him made him cringe. Despite the noise, he swore he could hear a dripping sound and whatever he was lying on seemed hard and warped.

No, that wasn’t right. It wasn’t warped. It was filled with holes… metal flooring. He was lying on the walkway of the pipeline. But hadn’t he just been in one of the generator rooms? He tried to push himself up but the moment his fingers curled into the floor, electricity shot through his spine. Everything, every goddamn thing, hurt more than anything he’d ever known. In fact, he thought he’d known pain. This was… something new. Something he instantly hated.

He squeezed his eyes shut, a burst of nausea roiling through his insides, and the floor trembled beneath him like it was trying to emulate the sudden fear that clutched at his chest. No, that wasn’t right, either. It was just people. Boots on the walkway, shaking the grates. He felt hands on him. Or he thought he had. But the sensation faded as quicky as it had come.

“Hang on, Doctor Wells, don’t move!” He wasn’t sure he recognized that voice. Shouldn’t he? He didn’t forget things. He never forgot. His memory was- “There’s so much blood, what do we do?!” the voice said. He should know that voice. But he couldn’t bring up the face it belonged to. He couldn’t remember. Because he was tired.

No, that wasn’t correct. He wasn’t tired. He was…

Dying.

sh*t. He was dying, wasn’t he…

He blinked rapidly, trying to understand how this had all happened so quickly, how he’d gone from working to dying, how he was laying on a hollow floor staring at an unfinished plaque with someone’s name on it. He remembered the plaques. They were in dedication to anyone who had helped with the accelerator, who had made it a reality. They were adding more names, for the people who had worked on the upgrades and furthered the expansion. Why could he remember that so clearly when everything else was fuzzy? How did he know the name he was staring at now belonged to a man who had come to work for the labs only four years ago?

Francisco Ramon. Genius.

Francisco Ramon. Mechanical engineer.

That name was important. It was. The man who that name belonged to was important. But suddenly, he couldn’t remember why. Everything had gone numb. His body, his mind. Everything but that name. He wanted to hold onto it, to him. He felt like a lifeline. He felt like the only thing keeping him from falling right into Death’s waiting arms. If only he could remember when he closed his eyes…

Francisco Ramon.

* * *

“A standard 8-Ball has twenty answers. Ten affirmative, five non-committal, and five negative,” Caitlin read, flipping the pamphlet that had come with the golf ball sized toy. “Responses are very carefully and statistically designed to be accurate and each of them mean something more than they seem to say. The original Magic 8 Ball has the answers to all of your most pressing questions. This novelty toy offers fortune-telling fun and intrigue for everyone. Start by asking the ball any ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, then turn it over to see your answer appear in the window.” She smirked at the paper. “This is as ridiculous as I remember.”

“Inside the ball is a space where a white plastic 20-sided icosahedron die floats in approximately one hundred milliliters of alcohol that’s been dyed dark blue.” Barry read off his phone, scrolling a little at his Google generated information. His brown hair was cut shorter than usual, his blue plaid button up had the sleeves rolled up, and his blue jeans had an ink stain near the left knee that Cisco thought looked like a Rorschach test.

“Yeah, yeah. We all know how it works. This is supposed to be fun, remember?” Cisco reached forward and grabbed the ball from the center of the table, sitting back heavily in his chair and stretching out a leg. He shook the ball lazily, watching as Barry reached for his coffee. “Oh, Magic 8-Ball, are my two ridiculous best friends even capable of having a good time?” He held the ball still, peering into the window, then grinned at the answer. “Very doubtful.”

Caitlin chuckled, setting the paper down and grabbing her own cup of hot cocoa, rubbing her somewhat round, pregnant belly softly before pulling her feet up beneath her and settling further in her own chair. Her cinnamon hair was up in a messy bun, she was wearing a black pair of leggings and a flowing green blouse that shimmered a little when she moved. Cisco smiled at the sight of her.

It was close to noon on a Tuesday, and they were all sitting in Jitters at their usual table in the far corner, the one with the wide chairs that allowed them to relax without feeling cramped by the rest of the lunch crowd. Every Tuesday, this was where they spent their break, catching up and laughing about work and life. Not that they didn’t talk practically every day, but this was tradition. They’d actually taken the day off, spending it together, but Cisco had insisted that Jitters remain on the itinerary.

The three of them had been inseparable since college, despite their completely different upbringings, and no matter what life threw at them, they refused to let go of that bond. Luckily, their dreams and situations had pretty much steered them all in the same direction. Science was their calling. Sure, they had their own focuses. Caitlin was a bioengineer with an active medical license and a focus on biophysics. Barry was a physicist with a focus on particle physics. And Cisco was a mechanical engineer with a focus on physics and statistical mechanics.

After college, there was only one place in the world any of them had ever wanted to work. And that was S.T.A.R. Labs, specifically the flagship location in Central City. They’d all been hired at the same time. And after seven years, though they worked in separate departments, all three of them were pretty well known around the labs. It was rare to see one without another, or all three at once.

To be honest, Caitlin and Barry were more like family, in Cisco’s eyes. Cisco had been on his own long before college. His parents and brother had pretty much disowned him when he came out as gay in high school, throwing him out of the house. And he’d come to terms with that loss a long time ago. He’d been fairly sure he was destined to navigate the tackling of his future all on his own. But fate brought those two ridiculous people into his life and he wasn’t about to let them go for anything.

They’d all grown so much together. None of them were the same people they started out as that first crazy and intimidating year of college. Now, they were each masters of their chosen fields. Caitlin was married to a guy who was pretty much her equal in every way, Ronald Raymond. And she and Ronnie, a structural engineer she’d met at the labs, were expecting their first kid. She ran her own department and had papers published in all the major science outlets. Barry was married to the love of his life, Iris, a spunky reporter who had stolen Barry’s heart from day one. He was also well on his way to getting his doctorate. And their lives were in a continuous upward momentum of awesome. Which all, sometimes, made Cisco feel like he was lagging a little behind.

Well, maybe more than a little.

The world was moving onward every single day, but Cisco Ramon was stuck in place.

“You’re doing it again.” Barry’s accusing voice made Cisco snap out of his thoughts, blinking at Barry and Caitlin who were both watching him.

“What? What’d I do?” He asked quickly, brows up in confusion. Caitlin chuckled, smoothing some stray strands of hair out of her face.

“You were making the ‘existential crisis’ face.”

“There’s a face for that?” He turned the ball absently between his fingers. Barry reached out and took it from him.

“There is. And you’ve made it so often lately, we know it by heart.” Barry absently flipped the ball up and down, watching the answer change in the window without actually asking any questions.

“Spill it.” Caitlin ordered, setting her mug down. Cisco heaved a breath. He wasn’t going to escape this, not with both of them sitting there and perfectly capable of ganging up on him.

“It’s noth-“

“Ah! Cisco Ramon, don’t you dare say it’s nothing.” She pointed right at him, sternly scolding. He bit off the rest of his sentence and cleared his throat.

“I mean…” he shifted in his chair a little, feeling the weight of her finger even without being touched, then he sighed and shook his head. “I’m just… I feel like I’m sorta… getting left behind. Which is my fault.” He squinted a little, waiting for her to scold him further. Then shrugged when she didn’t. “You two have your whole lives put together, and I’m super proud of you. You’re rocketing right for the finish line. But I’m still sleeping in a studio apartment that’s covered in posters, with a cat for a roommate, and a daily subway commute that hasn’t changed in seven years. This isn’t exactly where I thought I’d be right now. I mean, remember when we sat down and made those lists of everything we wanted to do? All the things we wanted to accomplish and have?” He watched Barry nod softly, “Well, you two have more than half your lists checked. I’ve got nothing after ‘Get a kickass job at S.T.A.R. Labs with my best friends.’”

“Cisco,” Caitlin said, smiling sweetly, “You can’t base your achievements off ours. You’ve done amazing things and gotten so very far all on your own with far fewer resources than either of us. You know that.”

She wasn’t wrong.

Caitlin had grown up with successful and rich doctor parents. Barry had grown up on the higher end of middle class with a teacher for a mom and a pediatrician for a dad. Cisco had spent the last two years of high school living in and out of homeless shelters or sleeping in the high school gym while he worked towards graduation, outrunning bad decisions and nightmares he'd never be rid of. He’d gotten into college with the best grades in the school and a whole sh*t ton of scholarships, which hadn’t been easy to get. But he’d done it. On his own. He’d made it. And when he’d met Caitlin and Barry, it was the first time he’d felt like he didn’t have to do it alone anymore.

“Yeah, I know. I’m not comparing us, not really, honest. It’s more like I’m lamenting my own apparent inability to get past that next checkmark.”

“Well, what’s the next thing on your list?” Barry asked, pausing the turning of the 8-ball.

“Nope, no. You’ll think it’s ridiculous and you’ll laugh.” Cisco crossed his arms, wiggling down into his chair a bit more. Barry cracked a half smile.

“He will not.” Caitlin reached out and flicked Barry in the arm, making him cringe a little. “We won’t.” She assured, giving Cisco her signature sweet smile. He sighed, looking back and forth between them before finally responding.

“It’s ‘meet the love of my life.’” He mumbled, watching as a group of lab techs he recognized settled onto the couch nearby. His anxiety flared a little. Both Barry and Caitlin exchanged glances. “Look, it’s not like I haven’t tried. You guys know. I just… don’t think it’s in the cards for me. And, yeah, it kinda sucks. But… I’ll get over it.”

“Wait, wait,” Barry leaned forward, setting the ball down on the table and leaning his elbows into his knees. “How have you tried? You haven’t gone out with anyone in over three years.”

“I-“ Cisco blinked, then scoffed, “Well, I’ve been busy. With work and with-“ He watched Caitlin’s expression turn dubious. “Okay, now wait just a darn minute.”

“No,” She shook her head at him. “Barry’s right. You haven’t put yourself out there at all since-”

“Ugh, Brian. That bastard.” Barry groused, frowning. None of them were fans. Cisco had met Brian at a block party. The guy had been prince charming right from the start. And for the first three months or so, things between him and Cisco had been amazing. He’d trusted Brian with truths about himself that he had yet to trust anyone with. That had been a terrible mistake.

Brian was charismatic, charming, generous. He showered Cisco with affection and time. And Cisco was so smitten with the attention that he found himself never saying no. But then things began happening that he now knew were giant red flags. Brian would lose his temper easily. He made small jabs at the things Cisco enjoyed, and made offhanded comments about Cisco’s friends being stupid. He used Cisco’s desires against him. And he took advantage of Cisco’s affection.

Brian also had a deep-seated jealousy of Caitlin and Barry. He began obsessively texting all hours of the day and night, demanding to stay the night nearly every night, and calling Cisco if he didn’t answer his messages right away. All because he was worried that Barry and Caitlin would take up too much of his time, which apparently all belonged to Brian. That turned into Brian showing up at Barry’s place uninvited on game night, or waiting in the parking lot at Cisco’s work to drive him home even if he didn’t want the ride. The nail in the coffin was the night he broke into Cisco’s apartment and guilted him into intimacy in a way he still had a hard time wrapping his own head around.

Cisco blamed himself for falling for him, for becoming so complacent, for letting Brian manipulate him into staying. But that incident had been the last straw. The control had gone way too far. And when Cisco had found the courage to confront him about it the next morning, Brian nearly beat him to death. That wasn’t an exaggeration.

Cisco wasn’t one to back down from a fight. He’d dealt with enough bullies over the years. But Brian had blindsided him before he saw it coming. It hadn’t helped that Brian wasn’t a little guy, either. He lifted weights as a hobby. And every blow or kick he’d landed on Cisco had felt like a sledgehammer.

At first, Brian said sorry after every hit, saying he wouldn’t have done it if Cisco had just listened. It was strange, to be hurt and apologized to every other breath. He remembered wondering what sense it made. But then, it was as though saying sorry didn’t matter nearly as much as what Brian could get out of Cisco’s weakened state. It was the first time Cisco saw Brian entirely for what he was. Breaking Cisco’s body and his will in tandem became the ultimate goal. And Cisco knew he was going to die alone with a monster.

Brian called an ambulance when he was done, as though he’d come to his senses after he raped him and realized Cisco was not getting up. All that had taken was broken ribs, a punctured lung, a ruptured spleen, a broken arm, a skull fracture, and a violation he had an incredibly hard time retelling to the police or even coming to terms with. He couldn’t tell Caitlin and Barry at all, though part of him thought they knew and were just keeping it to themselves for his benefit.

The way the police looked at him, the way the doctors did… with so much pity… none of that helped. And sometimes he regretted not letting Barry and Caitlin in, he knew they would have loved him through it better than anyone ever could have. He just felt like it was too much. He didn’t want them to look at him with that same pity, or with more worry than they already did. It was too painful to think about. And thinking about what Brian had done to him, let alone talking about it, felt like he’d have to relive it.

He just wanted it all to be over.

Barry’s father-in-law, Joe West, a Detective and a really good guy, took it upon himself to track Brian down. A warrant went out for his arrest. Even his accounts had been frozen. But that didn’t seem to deter Brian, who still called him all hours of the day and night nearly non-stop while he was on the run. He wanted Cisco to ‘come to his senses and drop the charges.’ That was about the time Cisco learned Brian had done similar things to other partners, and he had a few outstanding warrants because of it.

Cisco wanted to forget, he wanted nothing to do with him, and he wanted him to pay. He also didn’t want him to be able to do this to anyone else. But it wasn’t all as simple as he thought it would be. A patrol officer found his car and saw him behind the wheel, which turned into a car chase that ended in a fiery car wreck on the outskirts of the city. They said he’d veered off the road, down an incline, and straight into a parked propane tank.

The relief Cisco felt had been… problematic. He’d wanted Brian to be stopped. But dead? Part of him was happy about that. Brian had been a monster. And now he could never hurt anyone again. But Cisco wasn’t a killer. And he wasn’t sure he would ever be able to fully have closure, no matter how it had ended.

So he tried to move on with his life. He went to counseling. He took up running. He moved out of his apartment building to the one next door, only because he couldn’t live in the place where he’d almost died but didn’t want to leave the neighborhood he loved. He wasn’t willing to let Brian take everything from him.

After he was settled, however, Cisco had decided he was done with trying to find a ‘better half.’

He didn’t trust his own judgment anymore, and it didn’t help that he was terrified of what might happen if he gave romance a shot. He’d only stopped having nightmares about a year ago. And even though he was lonely as hell and couldn’t help feeling like he was missing something very important, especially considering the whole world seemed to be getting this happiness thing right, he continuously turned down any potential date. He wasn’t sure he’d ever stop being afraid of the ‘what ifs.’

What if Cisco tried again just to get hurt? What if he was too stupid to see the red flags again? What if next time, it was something he couldn’t find his way back from?

Three years later, he was still alone. And he’d begun to think the loneliness was all he was worth.

He tried to convince his friends that he was content while simultaneously trying to convince himself there wasn’t a point to hope for any ‘happily ever after.’ He didn’t even entertain the idea that there was a yin to his yang just waiting for him out there in the big wide world. Or maybe that was a lie and he was just too chicken to try and find it now. Besides, who would want him once they found out what happened to him? He knew that was depression and fear talking. He just didn’t know what to do about it.

At any rate, he was now sitting in a coffee shop with his two very happy best friends wondering why he had the luck of that guy who’d been decapitated by a rock while trying to escape the Pompeii eruption.

“Guys, there isn’t anyone to put myself out there for. You try finding an honest, intelligent, challenging, funny, caring man who isn’t already taken, and is willing to have my nerdy, affection-starved, problematic-self exactly as I am. If you do, I’ll jump at the opportunity.” He flourished his hand wide for emphasis, then pointed at Caitlin absently. “You can’t. Cause he doesn’t exist. I’m destined to grow old all by myself with my collectibles and t-shirts.”

“Cisco, I know you have a hard time trusting people, and we get the reasons why-“ Caitlin began, but Barry waved at her absently for a moment, plucking up the 8-ball.

“I’ve got this.” He said, looking directly at Cisco. “Right here, right now, let’s use this thing to find a guy for you to ask out.”

“What?” Cisco’s eyebrows darted up, throat tightening instantly.

“Come on, man. What’ve you got to lose? Worst some dude could say is no or that he doesn’t swing that way, right? So, let’s do this.” Barry urged, face hopeful and determined like he’d just figured out where existence left the keys to the universe. When Cisco couldn’t do anything but sit there and gape at him, mostly because his brain was having a hell of a time wrapping itself around this sudden turn of events, Barry nodded. “We’re doing this.” He wiggled the 8-ball, “Magic 8-Ball, should Cisco look left?” He shook it then looked down, waiting for the die to rise as Cisco felt his fingers go tingly with anxiety. “My reply is no.” He read, then shrugged, “Okay, should he look behind him?” He shook it again, and waited. “Outlook good.” He said with a smile.

And like they’d all been pulled on strings, Barry looked, Caitlin peered past Cisco, and Cisco turned stiffly in his chair to peer out at the crowd. That part of the café was, for some ungodly reason, filled with women from a pageant that was taking place up the block. It was all makeup, pink glitter, manicures and fancy coffees as far as the eye could see.

“Dude.” Cisco blurted grumpily, ready to turn back around. Because of course he’d be the butt of some cosmic joke right now.

“Wait, look…” Caitlin said, voice lilted in surprise. Barry had also noticed something Cisco hadn’t, tapping his shoulder and pointing beyond the gaggle of beauty queens to the far back corner where a high-top table sat with a single occupant. And that single occupant was…

sh*t, that was Doctor Harrison Wells.

Tall, dark and handsome as hell, with black unruly hair, black casual clothes, brilliant sapphire eyes that shone seriously bright behind his dark rimmed glasses, strong hands with long fingers that were tapping away at the laptop in front of him, muscles relaxed beneath a tight sweater that did nothing to hide the fact that he was lean and strong, sleeves rolled up to expose his firm forearms, relaxed dimples in his cheeks and a sharp jawline that all accumulated into what Cisco had always been able to admit was a damn gorgeous man.

He had an empty cup of coffee to his right, completely lost in his own world despite the conversations and chaos around him. And yeah, Cisco found him as mouth-watering like that as he had every time he’d ever passed him in the halls at work or in every picture or news broadcast he’d ever seen him in. And it certainly helped that Harrison Wells was a genius, the kind that made Einstein seem like a kindergartener in comparison. Add all that to the fact that an article with Doctor Wells' picture on it had helped him through one of the worst moments of his life, and there were plenty of reasons he’d had a not-so-secret crush on him. But… no, nope, nu uh. Not happening!

“Oh no, hell no!” Cisco erupted immediately, spinning back around in record time, face stuck in a grimace. “Are you two insane?!” He hissed, and watched the people at the couch turn their eyes to him as he hunched forward, speaking softer but with just as much energy. “You know damn well who that is!”

“Yeah, he’s only the man you’ve been drooling after forever. And?” Barry countered, an incredibly telling grin forming on his face.

“I never drooled!” He pointed, “And he’s our boss!” Cisco tried to snatch the ball out of Barry’s hand, but he was quicker, darting sideways in his chair to keep it out of his reach. Cisco scowled. “Besides, gorgeous or not, the guy is a grade-A dick. I’ve spoken to him once in seven years and he barely gave me the time of day other than to tell me to ‘watch out.’”

“Yeah, after you ran into him in a hallway. Because you were literally running. You spilled his coffee all over him. And then you hid in your lab for ten days because you were mortified.” Caitlin deadpanned, then uncrossed her legs, scooting to the edge of her chair.

“Yeah, exactly! That’s a perfect reason not to talk to the guy. You can’t imagine the horror. And I like my job, ya know. I need my job. I’m not tempting fate. I’ve heard the stories about his temper. And, besides, he’s not gay! Obviously. I’ve seen the pictures of him and his daughter online and in the company magazine.” He watched the humor dance in Caitlin’s eyes, then looked at Barry, who seemed just as amused by all this. “What?!”

“Do you even read the magazine?” He asked, “They did a whole biography story on him six months ago. He’s bisexual, Cisco. And… he’s very, very single.” Barry wiggled his brows, and Cisco felt his entire body buzz to a halt. Blood stopped moving, heart stopped pumping, lungs shut down, brain got stuck. Harrison Wells was bisexual? Huh. Okay, so… he never would have guessed that. But that didn’t change anything.

“Alright, look… that’s fantastic and all. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is still our boss. I can’t ask our boss out on a date.”

“Why not? You’ve been attracted to him since the first time you saw him speak at CCU.” Caitlin motioned back in Wells’ direction. Cisco had to grip both sides of his chair to keep himself from turning again. “And you just said, and I’m quoting, you want to find someone who is an honest, intelligent, challenging, funny, and caring man, right? Doctor Wells ticks all those boxes.”

“How the hell would you know that?” Cisco demanded. Caitlin instantly winced a little, and understanding hit Cisco hard. “Oh my god, you know him.” Cisco gaped, “You know-know him!” He accused. “How?!” S.T.A.R. Labs wasn’t a small campus. It had several buildings, the particle accelerator beneath the main, and over a thousand employees in various fields.

Its existence had turned Central City into the ‘Science Capital’ of the world. People came from all over for the chance to work in those halls and do something worthwhile. Sure, there were other smaller locations in Chicago, Boston, Portland, even overseas now. But Central City’s flagship location was the magnificent and bustling epicenter of it all. Which meant it wasn’t unusual that people could work there for a decade and never meet.

“Jesse, his daughter, is interning in my lab. She started three months ago, and she’s assigned to a certain project that I can’t talk about.” She tried to give him the most innocent look possible. “Which means I shouldn’t be saying anything now. You know how the nondisclosures work. But… Doctor Wells comes by about every other day to check on her. I’ve seen what he’s like with her. And I’ve seen how he interacts with other people. Yeah, most of the stories are right. He’s kinda surly and rough around the edges, but he’s smart, Cisco. Smarter than anyone that any of us has ever met before. And he cares. A lot. It’s humbling.”

“You sound like you admire him.” Cisco said softly, finding himself intrigued despite every damn reason he shouldn’t be.

Truthfully, he’d followed Wells’ career for years. That man was half the reason why Cisco had wanted to work at S.T.A.R. Labs. It wasn’t just his good looks Cisco found so attractive. He’d pioneered so many incredible advancements in technology and medicine by building the labs from the ground up to become a trillion-dollar company with multiple locations that focused on helping people and furthering human reach. He gave opportunities to people like Cisco, who came from poor economic backgrounds, that they never would have had anywhere else. He’d created a dozen charities that had provided clean water and electricity to struggling countries, gotten homeless people off the street with jobs and safe housing, and more.

Wells was practically a saint. And Cisco had a hard time separating the idea of the labs from the idea of the man. Though that didn’t mean Cisco hadn’t heard his own fair share of stories like the others had when they’d first started working there. Most people said Wells was socially awkward and hard to read, and that he had a temper that could be terrifying. He didn’t seem to have much in the way of friends, he was intimidating, and if he had any family beyond his daughter, no one knew anything about them. The man was tight-lipped about his personal life, which was why it was a little surprising that he’d admitted to being bi in one of the labs’ most recent magazine articles. Though the funding of several LGBTQ+ groups for youth made a lot more sense now.

“Should Cisco ask Doctor Wells out?” Barry suddenly asked out loud, shaking the ball without warning. Cisco damn near choked on his own air and was a blink away from launching himself out of his chair to tackle that damn 8-ball out of Barry’s grip when the physicist smiled wide and bright. “Without a doubt.” Caitlin reached out and took the ball out of Barry’s hand, knowing Cisco well enough to know he wanted to take it. He couldn’t exactly wrestle a pregnant woman for it. Though he briefly considered it.

“That settles it then.” She made a shooing motion at him. “Go on, get to it.”

“You’ve gotta be kidding me. You can’t actually be serious about this. You’re listening to a toy.” He scoffed.

“Damn right we are. And so are you.” Barry stood up and grabbed Cisco by the wrists, hoisting him up and out of the chair, then spun him like a goddamn top to face Wells’ direction. Cisco felt his mouth go dry, his heart rate picked up speed, and his lungs forgot for a moment that breathing was imperative to living. “Here, take this.” Barry put his coffee in his hand, which Cisco had barely touched so far, then gave him a gentle nudge forward. “You’re right. This 8-ball thing is fun.” He heard the humor in Barry’s tone. “Good luck, buddy.”

“I hate you both!” Cisco yelped instantly, though not loud enough to carry. And for some absolutely bewildering reason, his feet began moving against his will through the crowded tables, right for Doctor Harrison Wells...

Chapter 2: “I owe you a coffee.”

Chapter Text

It took a moment for it to register that there was someone standing in front of him, behind the empty chair at his table, watching him over his laptop. Harry’s eyes flicked up, hands pausing over his keyboard halfway through the email he was replying to.

Instantly, he tightened his lips at who he saw. He knew this man. Harry didn’t forget promising people. Especially not ones that were as appealing to look at as Cisco Ramon. He’d heard all about Ramon when the head of the HR department, Victoria Rand, had hired him, Snow and Allen. The three were making names for themselves fast. But what he’d heard and seen of Ramon’s accolades had caught Harry’s attention a little more than the others. They were all very intelligent, to be sure. But Ramon was the most promising mechanical engineer the labs had in its ranks. He’d signed off on his hire without hesitation. But that had been seven years ago. And though he’d seen him in the halls, their paths never really crossed.

After the generator explosion, Harry’s interest piqued even more. He’d never even met the man face to face, but he’d somehow become the most important person in his existence in a matter of moments. All because of his name. Harry couldn’t have explained it at the time if he’d tried. When he’d woken up in the hospital, somehow having cheated death, Ramon’s name was the first thing to come out of his mouth. He couldn’t have explained that, either. At least not in a way that would have made sense to anyone. But to Harry… Ramon’s name… hell, just the idea of him, had kept Harry in the land of the living. He knew how crazy that was. So he’d kept it to himself. That was three years ago.

It wasn’t till Ramon had crashed right into Harry seven months ago that he’d properly done some thorough research on the man. Ramon had quickly and completely garnered his attention by splashing coffee all over Harry’s suit, goddamn beautiful auburn brown eyes widened like a deer in headlights before he’d squeaked out ‘oh my god, no!’ and sped out of sight, leaving Harry standing there with a dripping coffee cup, a fresh stain on his suit, confusion, and more than a little lingering intrigue at the image of Ramon’s rather enrapturing features hurrying away. He hadn’t been disappointed about anything he’d learned. Or by the mental image of Ramon as a whole.

Since then, however, he’d gone back to only seeing the engineer in passing. Ramon seemed to avoid him like he had the scarlet letter tattooed to his forehead if Harry came anywhere within twenty feet of him. Which was why this was a little surprising. Because right that moment, Cisco Ramon was standing there, barely three feet away, with a cup of half-cold coffee in his hand, again looking like a deer in headlights. And when Harry didn’t say anything, Ramon shifted on his feet and swallowed, clearing his throat.

“I owe you a coffee.” He stated very clearly, and he seemed to relax a little at his own words, glancing from Harry to his empty mug and back.

“What?” Harry asked automatically, brows knitting a little as he blinked and looked down at his cup, fingers curling toward his palms.

“Ya know… cause I sorta exploded yours… all over you.” He smiled sheepishly.

“Oh.” Harry looked at him, hands relaxing as he slowly sat back a bit. “Right.”

“So what do you like?” Cisco motioned to his mug, “In your coffee?”

“Nothing. I…” he furrowed his brows, feeling a little confused by this whole interaction. “It’s been seven months.”

“What?” It was Cisco’s turn to look confused.

“Since you spilled my coffee.”

“Oh.” Cisco blinked, then smirked, which brought a rather soft quality to his features almost instantly that Harry liked maybe a little too much. Harry just kept staring at him, feeling like he was missing something rather big and important. “Wait, you remember how many months ago it was?”

“I remember everything.” Harry said almost offhandedly. It wasn’t a lie. He had an eidetic memory. There was very little he wouldn’t remember. And Cisco Ramon was not someone who would be easy to forget, it seemed.

“Okay.” Cisco nodded firmly, an amused expression gracing his features. “I’ll be right back.” He reached forward and grabbed Harry’s empty mug without invitation, and then simply walked off. And all Harry did was stare some more. Confusion was apparently the guest of honor today, because none of this made sense.

Harry came to Jitters all the time, like so many other lab employees. It was the closest coffee shop, and therefore convenient. Work had its own cafeteria, and there were more than a few ready sources of caffeine all over the campus, but sometimes the change in scenery was very welcome. The coffee at Jitters was halfway decent, and the ambiance wasn’t entirely terrible. And, normally, his employees stayed well enough away from him when he was there. Sure, he would return a smile or wave with a nod of recognition, and sometimes he’d pay for whatever they were having if they were behind him in line. But most people left him alone, happy to keep their distance from the CEO and founder of S.T.A.R. Labs. It seemed easier for them that way, and he wasn’t about to go out of his way to change their minds.

None of that was on his mind, however. Like he’d said to Ramon, it had been seven months since the incident with the coffee. So why now?

A moment after that thought, Cisco appeared again, stepping between two women who were decked out in every shade of pink that existed, mouthing a quick ‘sorry’ to them as he squeezed his way through, coming up to the table with two fresh cups of coffee. One was black, which Cisco set right back where he’d grabbed the other from. The second looked like it had been drenched in cream and sugar. He set that one down on the table, then pulled the empty chair out, sitting down without asking.

“Black. Nothing in it.” Cisco motioned. Harry reached forward very slowly, closing the laptop lid.

“Thank you.” He said dubiously, picking it up and taking a slow sip. Dark roast. Hm.

“So what’re you working on?” Cisco asked, voice as even tempered as it possibly could be. Maybe this was just what it seemed. Ramon was satisfying his sense of guilt and trying to be cordial in the aftermath. Harry could play along with that, even if it still didn’t make any sense to do after such a long time.

“I was responding to emails while I had the chance.” Harry held his coffee in both hands on the tabletop, trying to decide if he should sound nicer than he normally might during this exchange. It wasn’t that Harry wasn’t nice. Or that he didn’t like people.

Maybe he just didn’t like most people. Jesse would have scolded him and told him that most people were better than he thought. He’d have told her most people were exactly what he thought they were. Morons.

Cisco Ramon wasn’t most people.

“That’s the one thing I’m bad at. Emails.” Ramon scrunched his nose a little. “My boss is constantly on me about-“ He froze a little, eyes widening a bit. Again with the deer in headlights. “Ooh, I probably shouldn’t be telling you that.” He grimaced. “Ya know, considering you’re my… boss’s boss’s boss’s boss.” He looked up as he ticked away four fingers, like he was trying to keep the hierarchy straight in his head.

“If it makes you feel any better, Ramon,” Harry offered, completely and instantly struck soft by the warm way Cisco’s eye focused on him, which was a surprising little revelation, “This is the first time I’ve properly answered emails in two months.” He admitted. And right away that soft focus turned into a slow, lazy, far too easy stretch of Ramon’s lips into a goddamn unreal and handsome smile. Beautiful, even. And Harry instantly wondered if his lips were as soft as that smile made them look.

“You can call me Cisco.” He said, nodding once for emphasis.

“I’ll stick with Ramon.” He replied quietly, watching a strange uncertainty flush in Cisco’s gaze. “I’m-“

“I know who you are, Doctor Wells.” He replied almost stiffly.

“No.” He shook his head, then waved his hand somewhat dismissively as though trying to shoo away the word he’d just said. “I mean… I am, but I’m Harry.” He dropped his hand to his lap. “You can just call me Harry.” Something about that made Cisco relax, so much so that he made a wistful smile.

“Harry it is, then.”

“So why are you here, Ramon? Seven months is an awful long time to take to pay for someone’s spilled coffee.” He asked, taking the time to really look at the man sitting across from him. He had naturally tanned skin, strong shoulders that pulled a little at the dark purple ‘Aliens Built the Pyramids’ t-shirt he was wearing. His equally strong forearms flexed when he turned his coffee mug in his hold. He had the hands of an engineer, work-toned and fingers precise, even just turning a mug. His eyes, quite possibly the darkest brown capable, dotted with auburn and amber in the density of his irises, always seemed to be glistening. His hair, black, wavy and falling to his collarbones, looked soft and touchable under the right circ*mstances. He was singularly pleasing to look at. Though Harry knew there was far more to him than an enticing face.

Ramon was a genius level mechanical engineer who could do just about anything. Harry was sure of that much. And he was a good man. It wasn’t something Harry was assuming. He’d asked questions. He’d searched out opinions. And he’d heard nothing but positive things about him. Everyone who spoke his name did so with respect and what Harry could only consider joy. They said he was competent and fair, and would go out of his way to help anyone he could. He didn’t try to be in the spotlight, and he was generous with his time, knowledge, and humor. Harry thought that was refreshing, especially in this business. Everyone else wanted to make names for themselves, to climb the ladder to a top that was harder to reach than most dreams. It made for difficult dynamics, a fair amount of backstabbing, and more than a few hardened personalities. It wasn’t a culture he fostered at S.T.A.R. Labs, but that didn’t mean it still didn’t happen.

People could be very good at their jobs and be complete assholes. Harry knew that from experience. And he was sure more than a few people thought he himself fit into that category. But Ramon seemed to be the unique kind of man who was not only a genius, but also one without ego or a competitive streak. He seemed to be every bit the good man that Harry’s research had told him he was.

“Truth?” Cisco spoke, pulling Harry’s attention back to the moment as he squinted a little, leaning forward on his forearms, like he wanted to make sure no one else but Harry would hear. “A Magic 8-ball told me to do it.” Okay… maybe he’d been wrong about the genius part. “I know how it sounds, Harry.” He nodded seriously, “But I learned a long time ago not to question these sorta things. It’d be like demanding Caitlin not eat all the pickle chips in arm’s reach. It’s just something no one should do.” Harry let out a slow, long breath, slightly dumbfounded by all of this.

“A children’s toy… told you to come over here, pay for coffee, and talk with me.” Harry deadpanned. Cisco grinned with an emphatic ‘yup’ before sipping his coffee again. And Harry felt a little like he’d missed the joke. Was this a joke? “What did you ask it?” He demanded lightly. And Cisco set his cup down.

“Whataya mean?”

“The 8-ball. What did you ask? It’s yes or no questions only.”

“Well, technically I didn’t ask it. My best friends did. But rules are rules.”

“Alright,” he sighed heavily, relaxing back in his chair, “I’ll bite. What did your best friends ask?”

“Uh…” Red began to rise to Cisco’s cheeks and… oh, that… that was a whole new look for him. “We were sorta contemplating my lack of love life. And Barry kinda asked the 8-ball if I should… ask you out.” He didn’t look at Harry as he said it. Like he was scared of what Harry would say or look like in that moment. And Harry… he was trying to make sure he’d heard that right, instantly replaying the moment over and over in his head. But of course, Cisco had to keep talking, and Harry’s brain had a hard time catching up because of it.

“Look… I’m gonna be painfully honest about all this because I know how ridiculous it sounds, but I’m just trying to make it look like I gave it my best shot because they are sitting in that corner over there,” he tilted his head a little, motioning subtly beyond the hoard of hair spray and makeup to Barry Allen and Caitlin Snow, both of whom Harry knew quite well. He was fond of both of them, as well as their spouses. Not that he’d ever said that out loud. “And they are watching every second of this disaster. And I guess… I’m not really in the habit of lying to people I respect. So, yeah. That’s why I’m over here, making a complete ass out of myself. Because I’m hopeless, and they’re trying to help. And I don’t want them to think-“

“Ramon.” Harry cut him off with a firm tone and Cisco froze, eyes slowly dragging up the table to meet his.

“Please don’t fire me.” He blurted softly. And Harry blinked, lifting both brows in surprise.

“What? I’m not going to fire you.” He remarked. He did, however, look over at both Barry and Caitlin who not-so-expertly diverted their gazes, both accidentally reaching for the same mug as they tried to pretend like they’d been having a conversation. “Let me see if I’m understanding this.” He looked back at Ramon and leaned forward, mimicking his posture. The engineer was hyper focused on him and Harry spoke softly, so only he could hear. “You’re asking me out because your friends used a tourist shop gimmick to get preconceived answers to unfair questions, or… because you actually want to ask me out?” He asked, needing clarification. Wanting it. Because even though this was absolutely absurd, Harry knew himself well enough to know that, if given the chance, he would not say no to this man.

That was a revelation in itself.

The reasons for it were quite simple, however.

There were very few people left in the world who could pique Harry’s interest in anything. And though the first time he’d properly met Cisco Ramon had been an utter disaster, he’d thought about him for days afterward. He’d never quite understood why. Fact checking who he was, and what he did, and finding out just how smart and good he truly was only seemed to make it worse. And he had no logical reason for any of it. So, the fact that Ramon was sitting there now, staring at him like that, saying these things, created a painful and wild hope Harry wasn’t accustomed to… and could hardly deny.

Cisco was quiet for a few beats, something deep and dwelling lingering in his gaze. And Harry couldn’t make himself look away, transfixed by the way those mesmerizing browns danced over Harry’s features, taking him in, roaming and thinking. Finally, Ramon met his gaze once more.

“I’m asking because I want to. I wouldn’t have walked over here if some part of me hadn’t. Maybe the 8-ball is just an excuse.”

Well, then.

“Then ask me.” Harry dared gently, “Actually ask me.” Cisco seemed surprised by that response, but also very relieved, because the tension in his body seemed to melt away almost instantly. And the gentleness of his joyous smile found its way back to his mouth.

“Harry… would you like to go out with a complete mess of a stranger?”

“You’re not a complete mess. And you’re hardly a stranger.” Harry smiled instantly, unable to stop himself. It only made Ramon’s expression brighten a hundred times more. “Yes.” He nodded, “When?”

“When?” Ramon blinked, like it hadn’t occurred to him he’d ever get this far in the conversation. “Oh, right!” He shook himself a little, then dropped his hands to his thighs, rubbing absently. “How about… um…”

“Saturday, eight o’clock.” Harry said for him. Cisco paused, then laughed softly at him.

“You didn’t even let me answer the question.” He said good naturedly. Harry shrugged, then slipped off his chair, standing and grabbing the laptop bag that was on the floor. He slipped his laptop back into it.

“I’m going to be late. I figured I’d save us both the time.” He zipped it up, then gripped the handle in one hand. “I’ll see you then, Ramon.” He moved to step past him, but felt Ramon’s warm hand wrap around his wrist.

“Wait, I…” he slipped out of his own chair, letting him go gently, getting close enough to still be heard as the beauty queens chose that exact moment to get up and head for the door. “I don’t even know where to meet you, or what we’re going to be doing, or how to get ahold of you. Ya know, in case plans change in the next four days.”

“I assume you’re in the staff directory. I’ll text you tonight. And the rest?” Harry shrugged, “I guess we’ll both see.” And Cisco nodded softly.

“Okay, then. It’s… it’s a date.”

“Yes, it is.” Harry agreed, then forced himself to walk out without looking back. Because if he did, he might just change his mind. Call it off. Because this had to be a bad idea, right?

What was he thinking, saying yes to this? To him?

Not because Ramon wasn’t worthy, or any of that. Far from it. But because there were several very good reasons why Harry didn’t date anymore. Or at least, that’s what he’d always tried to tell himself. But as he rounded the corner to walk the two blocks back to the labs, he could feel the lingering touch of Ramon’s hand on his arm, and he realized he didn’t want to talk himself out of it this time. Truthfully, he didn’t need a Magic-8 ball to convince himself that this might be one of the smartest things he’d ever done.

Only time would tell if he was right…

* * *
H: I told you I’d text.

R: Yes you did. :)

H: I’m looking forward to Saturday.

R: So am I. Though I gotta ask you something. I should’ve asked it at Jitters.

H: Go ahead.

R: If this blows up in our faces, you gotta promise me I won’t lose my job. Believe me, I know how that sounds, me asking that. But I love what I do. And I love working here.

H: Your job is safe, Ramon.

R: Fantastic. So… are we really going to wing this thing?

H: No. I have a plan.

R: Are you going to tell me the plan?

H: Not yet.

R: Man of mystery, hm? I get it. Consider me intrigued.

H: It’s late. I thought you’d be asleep.

R: I couldn’t sleep because I sort of couldn’t stop thinking about you. What’s your excuse? It’s nearly midnight. Are you a perpetual night owl?

H: Not always. I’ve been very distracted today. Trying to catch up before I leave, but failing.

R: What’s got you so distracted?

H: Not what.

R: Oh… OH. I’m sorry! Maybe I should say goodnight, then?

H: No. Don’t be sorry. And don’t go. In fact, maybe I can call you instead of texting?

R: Okay, yeah. I’d like that.

* * *

- INCOMING CALL... -

Chapter 3: ‘Maybe you should do something about that.’

Chapter Text

Cisco had been thinking about their interaction in Jitters the rest of the day. And he’d been stuck daydreaming about the hot-headed genius CEO on his subway ride home. It wasn’t the first time he’d daydreamed about Harrison Wells. But this had been different. This had been laced with hope and excitement and curiosity. And by the time he’d settled in for the night, he’d been checking his phone every few minutes just waiting for that first text.

Now, even though he’d just said for Harry to call, Cisco’s heart nearly torpedoed out of his chest the moment his phone went off. ‘Unknown Caller’ lit up on the screen in bold white letters and Cisco pushed himself up toward his headboard, shoving his pillows backward and settling quickly, swallowing before hitting the ‘accept’ button.

“Hi, Harry.” He said, trying not to sound as eager as he was. He knew he didn’t pull it off.

‘Hi, Ramon.’ Harry said so easily back. And he sounded almost relieved. ‘Thank you for answering.’

“Of course… so… what’re you behind on?” Cisco pulled the phone away, smacking his own forehead for a moment because why would Harry want to talk about work when he was literally still at work?!

‘Well…’ Harry let out a breath, and something creaked in the background, like he was leaning back in an office chair, ‘What do you know about high-energy particle physics… more specifically a muon smasher?’ Instantly, Cisco forgot he should have picked a different subject because just the words ‘muon smasher’ had him straightening up, excitement making his mind buzz.

“It’s a particle collider. I read your proposal on the company website. You presented it to the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel last month. And, ya know, try saying that ten times fast.” Harry chuckled, a light and honest sound that Cisco liked because it felt like instant encouragement. “You want to continue to expand on the accelerator, bring CERN in on the project. The muon would use beams of particles similar to electrons but around something like… what, two hundred times heavier?”

‘Right.’

“We could enable tests similar to proton-beam experiments, and we could produce and release ten times as much energy with lower consumption. We could also explore interactions that are way harder to study with other colliders, and we could test the established theory of elementary particles in whole new ways. It’s phenomenal!” He exclaimed, then slowly grew nervous as silence filtered through the other end of the line. “But you already know that. Of course, you do. I mean, you’re the one who proposed it, right?”

‘You are positively marvelous.’ Harry sounded… soft. And there wasn’t a hint of guile in his tone. Wow.

“I…” he paused, looking down at the blankets pooled around his waist and he shrugged, realizing Harry couldn’t see it. Then he cleared his throat a little. “Thanks, Harry.”

‘You’re not used to that.’

“Used to what?”

‘Someone giving you a compliment.’ Harry had figured that out pretty damn fast. Awfully observant… and of course he was. The man was a super genius, after all. But dammit, that wasn’t fair.

Cisco pulled the phone away from his face, putting it on speaker and holding it in his hands to look at it, like maybe he could see Harry through the cellular waves. He pictured him relaxed back in his chair in his big office on the top floor, staring out at dark windows in a quiet space, hand relaxed against his leg, the other holding the phone in place, and the most delicate expression to go with it all. It was a nice image.

“It’s not something that happens very often. At least not with people that I… I really like.” He admitted, though had no idea why.

‘Are you saying you really like me?’

“Yes, Harry.” He smirked in spite of himself. “I really like you.”

‘You hardly know me.’

“I know what I’ve read, what I’ve seen. And I want to know more.” He said quickly, then looked around his studio, eyes landing on the only two windows on the far wall, a soft rain starting outside.

‘Why did you ask me out? And don’t say it’s because of an 8-ball.’

It was Cisco’s turn to be quiet for a beat. Then he took a deep breath, letting it out slowly, centering himself. He’d been pretty honest with Harry so far. And yeah, back at the café it had been mostly because he was out of his mind with anxiety. An anxiety Harry had quelled pretty quickly, much to Cisco’s surprise. Maybe he should just keep the honesty going. He couldn’t tell him about the magazine article from that day when he’d almost died, but he could tell him everything else…

“When I bumped into you, all those months ago, I was running to your Open Science seminar.” He admitted, cringing a little. “I forgot what time it was, and I didn’t realize it was already over until I ran face first into you. You sorta scooped your arm under me, keeping me from falling all the way over and… well, I panicked instantly. I should’ve stayed there and helped you clean up. But, like you saw, I ran as soon as my feet worked again. Which I’m really sorry for by the way.” He dragged a hand through his hair as he spoke, relaxing more against the pillows, wondering why it felt so effortless to talk to Harry like this. “After that, I… couldn’t really stop thinking about it. How I’d made such a fool out of myself in front of you. I’d always admired you. Your work and your morality. And S.T.A.R. Labs. Getting a job there was a dream for a lot of reasons.”

‘What reasons?’ Harry seemed genuinely curious.

“I’ve wanted to be an engineer since I was in middle school. I used to drive my parents nuts, constantly wanting to go to the Museum of Science. I took as many advanced classes as I could get away with. And I applied for every scholarship and grant I could get my hands on for college. After graduation, there really was no second or third choice. S.T.A.R. Labs was it because… where else can I do what I really love doing and still learn more?” He smiled at that, “And I get to see my best friends every day who love science as much as I do. I also get to help people with the work I do, I get to make a difference.”

‘Those sound like very good reasons.’

“They’re not the only reasons.” He swallowed down a sudden lump in his throat, “You were a big reason I wanted to work there, too.”

‘Me…’ he sounded instantly dubious. ‘How so?’

“Well, like I said, I always admired you. But… if I’m being honest, maybe I’ve always had one hell of a crush on you, too. You tick a lot of boxes. And I used to save all your interviews. I’d make sure I caught every press conference no matter what. Which… that all now sounds super stalkerish when I say it out loud.” He facepalmed, waiting for the inevitable rejection due to his own weirdness. But what he heard instead was a soft chuckle.

‘It’s flattering. Especially coming from you.’ Harry sounded amused and, damn… there was that softness again.

“Why coming from me?”

‘When you first started to work here, I compiled what I could about you. Your achievements and the work you’ve done. I read your proposals and studied your finished projects. Your mind is brilliant. Far more than most of the people who work at the labs can even claim. After you ran into me, it wasn’t the first time I’d thought about approaching you. You wouldn’t make eye contact with me. So, I made sure to keep tabs, made sure that nothing’s gotten in the way of the forward momentum your career should have.’

“I guess that makes us both sound stalkerish.” Cisco mused, though he was practically grinning now. Harry had been keeping tabs on him since he’d started at the labs? That was… surprising.

‘Not stalkerish. Maybe… just hopeful.’ He heard the chair squeak again, and then heard Harry let out a breath. ‘I agreed to go out with you, Ramon, because I find your brilliance alluring. I find you intriguing. And I think you’re quite enticing and beautiful to look at. In fact, you take my breath away.’

Holy sh*t.

Cisco felt his entire body light up.

Beautiful?

No one had ever called him beautiful before. He’d gotten other descriptors in the past. ‘Funny’ and ‘cute’ and the occasional ‘handsome.’ But beautiful? For some reason that word, coming out of Harry’s mouth in relation to Cisco, made him feel excited in a very physical way, and beyond awed. He was damn near willing to spill every truth he’d ever had. Though that would make him seem desperate, wouldn’t it? Maybe he shouldn’t spill all the beans. They still didn’t know each other, not truly. Not… yet. But maybe he could start with this…

“You’re the most attractive man I’ve ever seen.” He admitted, trying to keep his voice even. “I may have thought in depth about you… and ogled you on more than one occasion.” Harry chuckled again, so easily, so soft.

‘Ogled, hm. I’ve had my own thoughts about you, Ramon. And I think it’s safe to say I’ve very greedily stared at you, once or twice.’

“You can stare at me anytime you want.” He said, then closed his eyes because he thought maybe he and Harry were on the same page, right? But… was this moving too fast? It was, wasn’t it? Was it harmless flirting? It felt like something so much more…

‘I will. Unless you tell me otherwise.’ There was some sort of promise in those words, unspoken and intimidating all at once. And Cisco felt things shift inside himself. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t imagined Harry’s stare, or what it might lead to. He’d imagined a fire in his sapphire blues, lingering along Cisco’s body, memorizing him. But those were just daydreams, the hapless wish born of Cisco’s own loneliness… right? He wasn’t so sure that was the truth anymore, because right now he felt-

“I don’t think I’m ever going to tell you otherwise, Harry. I want you to stare at me. I want… a lot of things.” Cisco was very aware his voice sounded slightly tight now. About as tight as other things were beginning to feel. It reminded him of how hot-blooded he actually was. And how long it had been since his body had wanted something as badly as his head and heart did. Harry’s voice like this, soft and low, full of these admissions and words Cisco hadn’t heard from anyone else, had brought him to needy with very little effort. He hadn’t realized how fast it happened, actually. But now that he was sitting there with his eyes still closed, completely focused on the sound of Harry’s voice, images and ideas taking over, he was very painfully aware of how hard he was getting. sh*t. “How honest can I be with you right now?” He asked, trying not to sound breathy. Harry didn’t respond right away. It sounded like he might’ve stood up and began pacing.

‘As honest as you’re comfortable with.’ Something about his tone had become edged with gruffness. And it made Cisco’s free hand cling to the blankets as he briefly wondered what that would have sounded like without the digital waves of phones in the way.

“I, uh…” he felt himself flushing, hot and no doubt red, because even though he’d technically worked at the labs for seven years, dreamed about Harry as a whole since long before that, held onto his visage like a lifeline three years ago, and technically only met Harry face to face seven months ago, they hadn’t officially met until Jitters. And… they barely knew each other, right? Wouldn’t this be strange, telling him that he had gone from zero to ready just by hearing him talk? sh*t, he was ready. He’d never done anything like this before. Why was even entertaining it now?

‘If it helps,’ Harry said, barely above a whisper, ‘I’ve been distracted all day because I can’t stop imagining… certain things about you. I haven’t been attracted to anyone in a very long time, Ramon. And hardly to this degree. I understand this might seem forward to certain people, probably too soon to even admit. But I’ve been thinking about what it would feel like to… kiss you. Touch you. More.’ Harry let out a heavy breath, ‘So much more.’ Cisco felt the world slow down.

“Just hearing you talk has made me so damn hard, Harry. I think it’s safe to say I’m insanely attracted to you, too.” He half-whispered. Harry’s admission made him feel brave. Then Cisco shuttered out a breath of his own. There was a beat of silence. Another. One more. Had Cisco made a mistake by admitting that?

‘Maybe you should do something about that.’ Harry’s voice had grown slightly dark, in a way Cisco couldn’t have described out loud if he’d tried. And holy sh*t, was it everything. ‘Maybe we both should.’

“You… you’re hard, too?”

‘Very.’

“Holy sh*t…” Cisco panted out.

‘I’m assuming this isn’t an everyday occurrence for either of us. But I want to do this if you do.’ Harry’s words were half a question, all need. And any hesitation Cisco had went out the window as he scooted down into the bed, practically clutching his phone to his chest as his other hand shoved his blankets out of the way, his fingers then sliding down instinctively to palm himself. He didn’t let himself second guess it or try to rationalize it. Harry wanted to. So did he. That was more than good enough for him, no matter how crazy it was.

“Don’t make me do this alone, Harry.” He breathed out, mouth open. He moved his pajama pants down his hips, giving himself better access. He heard Harry let out another deep breath, and a thunk was heard. Cisco could almost picture him, standing there with his forehead against the chill window, a dark and rainy night outside, pants open and hand gripping, working himself to the sound of Cisco’s voice and breathing. How was this possible? How was this happening?

‘You’re not doing this alone, trust me. Damn, Ramon…’ Harry’s breath shuttered.

“You probably feel so warm.” Cisco’s breaths continued to heavily mingle with his words, his eyes comfortably shut as he pumped himself, giving just enough pressure, instantly wondering what it would feel like if it was Harry’s hand instead of his own. “Your skin, your breath. God, I wonder what you taste like. I can’t believe we’re doing this…”

‘I’d say neither can I. But do you have any idea what I’ve imagined about you? About what you’d look like, naked and wanting? About the sounds you’d make? Today wasn’t the first time I’ve thought about it.’ Just hearing that made Cisco moan softly before he could even try to stop himself. Harry moaned a little in reaction, which made Cisco pick up speed as if prompted. ‘Exactly like that… just like that, so needy.’

“Listen to you…” Cisco panted, arching a little into his own palm, “How did I go this long without hearing you talk to me like this?” He felt like he was asking for more. And maybe he should. f*ck it, he would. “Talk to me, Harry. Tell me what you would do to me. Please don’t stop.”

‘Everything. Every goddamn thing. I’d take my time with you, strip you down, make a blueprint of your body. I’d bring you to the point of begging, just to hear you.’ Harry’s breath picked up a bit, and somehow Cisco could tell that meant his rhythm had, too. ‘I’d spend time stretching you, till you were writhing around my fingers, till you’d give me no choice but to take you.’

“Oh god,” Cisco whined as those exact images flooded his brain, encouraged his hand, feeling that equally painful and pleasureful pressure encapsulate his groin. He was peaking quickly. “Please, Harry, oh please…” He whined softly. “Don’t stop…”

‘I’d use you up, your fire and your energy, I’d ride you till your legs stopped working, till this… till we both have no choice but to do this…’ And as if saying all that was more magic than was scientifically possible, Cisco was moaning out and coming into his own hand. He heard Harry groan, long and heady. And he knew Harry had come, too, which was a wonderful and wild realization.

Holy sh*t.

They’d just done that.

They were both left panting, coming down from a high Cisco couldn’t have imagined if he’d even tried. He never could have predicted this would happen. Or that Harry would be the reason why. And he found himself blinking up at the ceiling, starting to feel the first edges of physical tiredness. Moments passed. And he heard Harry sigh.

“That was… crazy. And unexpected.” Cisco spoke quietly, “I feel like I should be telling you that I’m not actually this easy.”

‘I never thought you were easy. In fact, I think you’re a challenge and worth every bit of effort.’ Harry sounded soft again. Wonderfully so. And Cisco… if he hadn’t been lying down, he might just be weak in the knees. Worth the effort? f*ck. No one had ever thought he was worth the effort. Harry had no idea what that phrase even meant to him.

How did this man even exist?

“How long has it been for you?” He asked, needing to push encroaching past pains back down, but then he cringed. Stupid, stupid. Why did he ask that?! He sat up slowly and set the phone on the nightstand, still on speaker, trying to distract himself from his own awkwardness. He grimaced a little at his own mess before he reached for a t-shirt that was still on the floor, standing up and wiggling his pants the rest of the way down as he wiped the mess off his hand.

‘Too long.’ Harry said, having mercy on him. ‘I’m not ashamed to say I needed that.’ He heard the sound of water running. He grabbed his phone and walked over to his bathroom, flicking on the light and setting it down on the closed toilet lid. He turned on his own sink, washing his hands, and briefly wondered why none of this felt awkward. By the time he was finished, it was quiet on the other end of the line.

“Harry.”

‘I’m still here.’

“I needed that, too. For the record. And,” He picked the phone up, taking it off speaker and holding it up to his ear. “I’m glad it was with you.”

‘I’m glad, too. More than you know.’ Harry responded warmly, quietly. ‘It’s late now. You should sleep.’

“Are we… I mean-“

‘I’m still game for Saturday, if you are. I’m looking forward to seeing you even more now.’

Cisco sighed in relief, smiling as he shut off the bathroom light. He went to his dresser to get clean pajama pants.

“I’m very much still game. And you should sleep, too, ya know.”

‘I think I can now.’

“Good.”

‘Goodnight, Ramon.’

“Goodnight, Harry.”

Cisco kept the phone to his ear, listening, waiting. It only took a breath or two for the line to go dead. But he stayed like that a moment longer before hitting ‘end.’

The last thing he could remember thinking before he went to sleep was that he really needed to get that Magic-8 ball back from Barry, because he had a very good feeling that toy had inadvertently changed his life for the better…

Chapter 4: “My lips are sealed.”

Chapter Text

“Okay, spill.” Jesse said firmly, grabbing Harry by the arm and tugging him back around the corner he’d just come from. He scowled, holding the stack of folders in his hand high up over her head as they both dodged a pair of lab techs.

“Dammit, Jesse.” He grumbled, and she kept dragging him, straight back into his office and shutting the door. He could have fought it. But it was Jesse. “What are you doing?” He dropped the folders onto the nearest shelf, then crossed his arms, glaring at her softly. “I don’t have time for whatever this is.”

“You’re gonna make time.” She crossed her own arms, staring him down. He had to physically fight the urge to smile at her. He’d always been appreciative of her energy. “Why didn’t you tell me that you have a date this Saturday?!” He raised both brows at that, staring at her. She had her auburn hair loose, her green eyes were decidedly bright and stern, and she was dressed in dark green slacks and a light green blouse that made her eyes stand out even more. His confusion was replaced by realization quickly, and he glanced at the closed door.

“Snow.” He sighed, shaking his head. “She told you.”

“Damn right, she told me. You obviously weren’t going to.” She chided. He turned away from her almost instantly, pacing to put distance between them.

“I was busy. I’m still busy.” He reminded, stopping by his desk and leaning his rear against it. She was still standing in the same exact spot. “It’s not a big deal, Jesse.”

“Not a big deal?” Her eyes went a little wide and she dropped her arms, coming right up to him. “Dad, you haven’t been on a date in eight years. And now you’re taking someone to the gala? This is absolutely a big deal. A huge deal, in fact.” He smirked at her enthusiasm and her expression softened a little. “Come on, you can’t keep me in the dark, even if you tried. I know everything, remember?” She smiled brightly, poking him in the chest and he chuckled. “So, tell me who it is!”

“Wait, I thought you knew everything. Snow didn’t tell you already?” He egged. And she nudged his shoulder.

“She was very tight lipped about ‘the who.’”

“Uh huh. In that case,” He stood up, dropping his hands to her shoulders and staring down at her, “My lips are sealed.” He winked and stepped past her.

“No!” She turned quickly and grabbed him by the belt loop, effectively stopping him in place before she hurried in front of him. “Dad, you don’t get how big of a deal this is for me! I’ve been begging you to go out with someone, anyone, for years. Years!” She threw up a hand for emphasis. “You always said there was no one worth the time. But now there is?”

“I don’t understand why this is so important to you.” He frowned a little, genuinely confused. Just like he had been when she first started bringing up his practically barren love life.

When her mother left, Jesse had only been four years old. Harry hadn’t dated anyone for years after that. Mostly because part of him didn’t think he’d ever learn to trust anyone enough to be able to. And then it was because he’d managed to convince himself that he’d never be any good at a relationship. That he was a much different man than he’d been once upon a time. And who would want to go through the trouble of navigating what was bound to be a demanding life with him? Tess had been different. But even she hadn’t stayed.

He knew he was difficult to live with, stubborn and bull headed, easy to anger and hard to understand. He knew his passion for his work could get in the way of personal relationships, even friendships. And he knew he couldn’t ask anyone to put up with all of that. Not again. Or… at least that’s what he used to tell himself.

At the urging of Martin Stein, an old friend who ran the Chicago branch of the labs for Harry, he decided to finally put himself out there. Give it one more try. The results had been a string of failed dates, and a relationship that had never gotten very far off the ground. And that had been the end of it. He’d never tried again. He’d never wanted to.

Until Francisco Ramon. But just because the man had reignited Harry’s dormant heart, it didn’t mean Harry had the right to put him through his bullsh*t. And yet… he’d said yes to the date. He’d experienced a surprising first with him only hours later. And he was beginning to forget all the reasons his own bullsh*t had been a deterrent in the first place.

“Dad… your happiness is very important to me. I’d think the reasons why would be obvious, don’t you?” Jesse pulled his attention completely and he sighed softly. He lifted a hand and curled some of her chestnut hair behind her ear.

“You don’t need to worry about me.”

“Why not? You worry about me every day.”

“That’s because I’m your father. That’s my job.” He stepped past her to grab the folders back up, straightening the stack out.

“It’s not just your job. You worry about me because I’m your daughter, so I get to worry about you because you’re my Dad. That’s how family works.” She doubled down, and he sighed slowly, staring at her. He wished he could just ignore her. But she was his daughter, his only joy in an altogether difficult world. Or maybe… not his only one anymore.

“Fine. His name is Cisco Ramon.” Saying that one name made her whole face light up as though… wait… “I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not why this happened.” He stated. And she nodded almost giddily, moving quickly up to him.

“Right, you’re only going out with the guy whose name you said on your almost-death bed. That couldn’t possibly be why you’re doing this.”

“It wasn’t-“ He stopped, clamping his mouth shut. He knew exactly why she would think that. She was as smart as it came, and just as intuitive. And if Harry was being a little honest, maybe that was part of the reason why he’d said yes. The rest of it was simply because… he’d needed to.

“Look, Dad, I don’t know him personally. But Caity and Barry talk about him all the time. They’ve all been best friends since their freshman year of college.” She was grinning now, “I’ve heard nothing but really good things about him. Seriously.” She reached out and gripped his arm. “Who asked who? Is he excited about the gala? Please tell me you’re wearing one of your good suits and not anything like this.” She motioned to his black jeans and old black sweater. “And promise you’re going to brush your hair.” She reached up to flick at it.

“Stop it.” He groused at her, swatting her hand away. She smirked. “First of all, it’s weird that you’re this excited. Second… he asked me, he doesn’t know about the gala, and the rest is already planned.” He pointed at her, then. “Stop telling me what to wear.”

“Planned.” She practically glared at him. “I know what that means.” He suddenly felt like he was being scolded. By his twenty-three-year-old daughter. “Planned means ‘work’ or ‘taco Tuesday.’”

“I don’t need dating advice from my child.” He turned away from her, reaching for the door. “I’ve got it handled, Jesse. Go back to your lab. And tell Snow she needs to keep her gossip to herself.”

“I want all the details on Sunday!” She called after him.

“Nope. Not doing that.” He called over his shoulder, ignoring the confused expression of his receptionist as he breezed past her. He heard Jesse laugh, then call out again.

“Love you, Dad!”

“Love you, too.” He called back, uncaring who heard. And as he rounded the corner again, he immediately recognized that he wasn’t as agitated as he probably should have been about all that. The fact that Jesse was so excited for him was… nice. Even a relief. It gave him a little more hope that this thing, whatever it was, that he and Ramon had started might actually have a chance. After all, if Harry’s daughter was rooting for them, didn’t that mean that Harry could, too?

It helped. It did.

So had last night.

After getting off the phone with Ramon, he’d driven home more at ease than he’d felt in a long time. He’d gone to sleep and hadn’t woken up once, which was a damn miracle these days. And he'd been breezing through the day on a relaxed sort of high he had no name for ever since his alarm went off that morning. It amazed him to think about how what they’d done over the phone had been enough to bring even a modicum of peace back into his life. Especially considering how… exhilarating that had all been.

Harry was hardly inexperienced, not even close to being a prude. But he’d never done anything like that before, with anyone. He’d stood there in his office alone in the middle of the night, pleasing himself, listening to Ramon do the same, imagining things and hearing things he wanted to burn into his memory. The need had engulfed him and built him up to erupting so f*cking fast, all thanks to Ramon. And knowing he’d done the same for him had made him feel beyond possessive in that moment, even honored.

It wasn’t classy, jacking off in the middle of the night in front of a tall dark window high above the labs where no one could see. But it had been damn wonderful, and nothing he would ever take back, mostly because he knew Ramon had done the same thing in his own apartment, listening to Harry talk about what he wanted to do to him.

The idea of seeing Ramon again, of hearing his voice, of talking about physics and memorizing his laughter, of maybe something more than all that… it made him feel…

He cleared his throat a little as he stopped at the mail clerk’s desk, struggling to find the right word as he dropped the files in the box there and signed the waiting clipboard. And Sally, the woman behind the desk, must have noticed because she smiled at him.

“Everything okay, Doctor Wells?” She asked, grabbing the stack.

“Yes. Why wouldn’t it be?”

“No reason. You just… you look happy today. That’s all.”

Happy.

That was the right word. Happy.

He absolutely was.

Until his phone rang.

He turned away from the desk and looked at the screen on his phone, a number appearing that he didn’t know, but recognized only because this was the fifth time in as many days they’d tried to call him. He didn’t normally answer when he didn’t know for sure who it was. But he was beginning to get annoyed with them. They never left a message, and the time of day was never the same. So he pressed the answer button and held the phone to his ear as he walked.

“Who is this?” He demanded. Jesse liked to tell him he had no concept of phone etiquette. She was probably right.

‘I…’ A woman began, then paused. He could hear music in the background, something acoustic and calm. ‘Hello, Harrison.’ Everything came to a screeching halt. His feet, his breath, his mind. ‘It’s good to hear your voice.’ His eyes darted around, his expression stunned and free hand in a fist near his hip. ‘I kept trying, but I didn’t think you’d answer this time. I…’ Her voice trailed off and he inhaled, backing into the nearest wall to stay out of the path of passing people.

“What do you want, Tess?” He said her name and instantly closed his eyes, jaw straining against his own confusion and instantly sparked rage. He should have known it would be her. Every year, she found the courage to call him. His number never changed, but hers always did. And every time she called, she danced around the subject like she was trying to save face, even after all this time.

‘Always straight to the point. So I will be, too.’ She sounded nostalgic about it. ‘H-how’s our baby girl?’

“Ask her yourself.” He was trying so hard not to raise his voice, watching as a man pushing a cart with bio slides on it gave him a curious look as he passed. Harry sighed out heavily, reaching up and plucking his glasses off, closing his eyes and rubbing at his forehead with his wrist. “You have to stop doing this.”

‘What is it you think I’m doing, Harrison? I’m-‘

“You’re trying to ease your own conscience. Jesse’s birthday comes or passes and you call to make yourself feel better. Do you really believe that a phone call can make up for-“ He dropped his hand, then pushed hard away from the wall, moving fast now, fueled by his own anger. “I told you before. If you want to know about my daughter,” he emphasized the word ‘my,’ which might have been cruel. But he was tired of this. “Then grow a goddamn backbone and call her. Better yet, why don’t you try showing up. She’s an adult now and capable of deciding for herself whether or not she wants to have anything to do with you.”

‘Does she know?’ Tess demanded, a slight painful edge in her voice. Harry pushed his way through a fire door, out onto a very high landing several stories off the ground that stretched out the side of the building with chairs and plants. It was empty, thankfully.

“Know what?”

‘That I call.’

“Yes.” He nodded, reaching out and gripping the railing with his free hand. “I don’t keep things from her.”

‘If she knows, does she ask… does she want to know why?’

“I don’t even know why you call.” His tone softened, and he stared across the campus, watching people pass far below. “Tess, I don’t know what you want from me.”

‘I don’t want anything from you, Harrison.’ She whispered, then lifted her voice louder. ‘I know there aren’t enough apologies in the world, or enough time to give them to you. But…’ She got very quiet, and the music in the background faded like she was moving away from it. ‘You should know I arrived in Central City this morning. And I do want to see Jesse. Face to face.’ He couldn’t say anything to that. So much was reeling through his head, loud and uncontrolled. He heard the railing creak beneath his grip. ‘Harrison?’

“Why now?” Despite the ease of his tone, there was fear there. Coupled with his anger. Rounded by his worry.

‘It’s a long story. But… you should know I’ve been sober for ten years now. I’ve been teaching at Yale for the last five years. I’m not who I was. And I worked very hard for that to be true.’

“I’m… happy for you.” He managed, “But what does any of that have to do with-“

‘I don’t want to ruin anything for either of you.’ She interrupted, ‘I don’t want to hurt you, either. That’s not what this is.’

“Dammit, Tess… what do you think is going to happen? Showing up now after seventeen years? How do you think that’s going to go with her?”

‘Believe me… I’ve thought about it. About all the ways it could go.’ She said quickly, ‘Harrison, I was offered a job at CCU. As head of the sciences department. And I… I accepted it. I start in two weeks.’ Harry closed his eyes and pulled the phone away from his ear for a moment, doing everything he could not to just lob it as hard as he could. ‘…Harrison?’

“Congratulations.” He said as he put the phone back, staring out at a flagpole in the distance.

‘Thank you.’ She said softly. ‘Look, I know this is a lot to process. But I think we should meet so we can talk about all this.’

“Talk about what? Nothing’s changed. You have your life. We have ours.”

‘I know. But I want… I need to…’

“If you want to see Jesse, call her. Her number hasn’t changed, either, not since the last time you called me. But you and I have nothing else to discuss.” He said firmly, and she was very quiet. So quiet that he wondered if the call had dropped. But then she cleared her throat a little, her voice slightly thick with emotion. f*ck.

‘You have every reason to hate me. I know that. I’m not looking for forgiveness, Harrison.’

“I don’t hate you.” He said remarkably soft, turning fully to look at the glass doors and the people passing back and forth inside. “I never hated you. I know what we were together. I know why you left. And I understood it, Tess. What I didn’t understand was-”

‘Why I didn’t come back.’ She said. He nodded, regardless of the fact that she couldn’t see it. ‘It’s been a very long time. But you still deserve the answer to that. Please meet with me, so that I can give you that much.’

“Wh-“ he inhaled, gritting his teeth as the word stuck in his throat. He forced himself past it. “When?”

‘I… okay, I’m in meetings all week, to go over the new position and… what about this weekend?’

“I can’t. I have important plans that cannot be changed.” He said immediately, the simple idea of seeing Ramon making all this seem far less heavy all of a sudden. “The number you’re calling from-“

‘Isn’t going to change again.’ She said clearly.

“I’ll call you on Sunday. We’ll figure it out.”

‘Good, that’s… that’s good. We’ll talk soon, then.’ She said, and she sounded happy about it. But Harry only felt…

He hung up without looking. Every inch of his body was filled with a new dread and an old pain that he didn’t want and didn’t know what to do with. He turned the phone over and over in his palm, trying to understand why he’d even agreed to any of this. And why, goddammit, did this have to happen now that Cisco Ramon had come into his life?

He sighed and shoved his phone into his pocket, recalling the way Ramon had looked in Jitters, and the way he’d sounded on the phone. He wanted to hold on to that. In fact, he wanted to see exactly where this could go with him.

The past was the past, and he wanted to leave it where it was. The only reason he hadn’t outright hung up on Tess from the start was because of Jesse. For her, he could meet with Tess and fake his way through what was bound to be an awkward, upsetting, even hurtful conversation. But for himself, he had no plans on letting the opportunity with Ramon slip through his fingers. The timing with Tess was terrible. But that didn’t mean he owed her anything, least of all the chance to finally allow himself some happiness.

He clung to that thought as he headed back inside, wishing he could believe his own lie, and wishing he could just track down Ramon right then and there and let him make Harry forget everything else…

Chapter 5: “What did you do last night?”

Chapter Text

“I’m freaking out.”

Cisco was pacing in the little kitchen that sat just off of Barry’s lab, probably wearing out the wax on the floor by now. It was only seven thirty in the morning. And both he and Barry should have already gotten to their labs. But he’d woken in a state of strangled anxiety that had culminated in him damn near kidnapping Barry the moment he saw him in the lobby. It was only Barry’s poor luck that Cisco hadn’t seen Caitlin first.

“What if he thinks this is all a mistake, ya know? What if he realizes I’m practically a peasant in comparison? What if he was just humoring me with the conversation at Jitters and everything that happened last night? And… oh god, last night! What if what we did last night was too soon, too fast?” He stopped and glared at Barry. “I never should’ve let you and that stupid 8-ball talk me into this. I’m blaming you when this goes up in flames!”

“Woah, slow down. Back up a second…” Barry turned in the chair he was sitting at, hand flat on the table and other hung between his legs. “What did you do last night?” Cisco closed his eyes, nearly grinding his teeth. f*ck. He let out all the air from his lungs and wandered over to the table, sitting in the other chair and effectively faceplanting, mumbling into the two seater’s tabletop.

“We talked on the phone. Neither one of us could sleep.” He half-lied. When Barry didn’t answer, Cisco slowly lifted his head, planting his chin into the hard plastic. “It was nice, okay? It was… really, really nice.”

“Okay.” Barry looked a little out of his element, but he folded his hands together and shifted himself down, resting his chin on his hands, meeting Cisco eye to eye. “I’m confused as to why you’re so worried. If talking to Harry was nice, why are you panicking?”

“Because, man…” he sighed, “Look at me. What exactly do I have to offer to a man like-“ He glanced toward the closed door, then back at Barry, quieting down a bit, “A man like Harrison Wells.” He sighed heavily as he pushed back up, sitting all the way back in his chair. “I have no family, besides you and Caitlin. And I’m not rich. I’m nerdy and maybe moderately attractive on my best day. It’s practically pity-worthy how lonely I am. And I-“

“Woah, stop. Stop that.” Barry furrowed his brows. “Man, you’re your own worst critic. You always have been.” He relaxed back in his own chair. “If Harry didn’t want to go out with you, he wouldn’t have said yes. Which means he must see what we all do.” He motioned at Cisco. “You’re insanely smart. You’re brave and selfless. You’re witty and strong. You’ve got an enormous heart. And I know I’m about the straightest guy on the planet right now, but I’d bone you if I was gay.” Cisco’s brain malfunctioned at that and he was laughing almost instantly, which was apparently the whole point because Barry was chuckling like he’d known he would. But when the laughter died down, Barry didn’t let Cisco off the hook. “What is this really about? Be honest.” Cisco looked down. Be honest. This honesty thing was going to give him an aneurysm.

“I like him, Barry.” He whispered. “Way more than I imagined I would, which is weird. After really only meeting him yesterday, it’s fast, right? It’s just… he’s everything I thought he was. Everything I heard. And so much more. And I think I’m afraid.” He admitted quietly. “Of things turning out like they always have. Of giving everything I am to someone again and…” He looked back at Barry. “You know.” And he did know.

He knew about Rick who’d made up outlandish rumors about him in college, and Matthew who pushed him into intimacy before he was ready for it, then dumped him for being a ‘bad lay.’ He knew about Diego, who cheated on him four times that he knew about. And of course Brian, who had been a veritable nightmare. Cisco’s luck was damn near apocalyptic when it came to relationships. And Barry knew it, too.

Every time Cisco had tried to have something serious with someone, he’d gotten the sh*t end of a monumentally bad stick. He also knew what all that heartbreak had done to him. To his ability to trust someone that much again.

“He’s not like them.” Barry said clearly, firmly, as though it was something he knew and didn’t just believe. His eyes were serious now. And he looked somewhat stern. “You can’t spend the rest of your life expecting everyone to do what those assholes did. If you do, you’re going to miss out on every possible chance that someone might just love you exactly the way you are. That isn’t fair to you.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the Magic-8 ball.

“You deserve better. And so does Harry. He’s a good man, Cisco. And I think you should give him a chance. I know you already know that he’s different, or you never would have asked him out in the first place, no matter what Caitlin or I said.” He set it on the table and rolled it in his direction. “But if you think I’m wrong, you could always ask the 8-ball for its opinion one more time.”

Cisco stopped it before it rolled away, keeping it hidden beneath his fingers. And for a moment, all he did was breathe a little.

“Is Harry going to care about… all the things I’m not?” He asked quietly, then turned the 8-ball to look at the little window.

‘My sources say no’ appeared, and Cisco let out a breath he hadn’t realized he was even holding in.

“See that?” Barry said with a smile. “Even the universe knows.” He stood up and motioned to the clock on the wall. “We better get going. Work doesn’t stop cause you’re falling in love.” He patted Cisco on the shoulder and left him there in the kitchenette alone, silence mingling in his wake. And Cisco took a few deep breaths, centering himself before heading out, slipping the 8-ball into his pocket as the words ‘falling in love’ tumbled around in his head…

* * *

R: This 8-Ball is coming in handy.

H: Hello to you, too, Ramon.

R: Oof, sorry. Hi, Harry.

H: How is that toy coming in handy?

R: Well, I asked if it was too soon to message you again. And it said, ‘very doubtful.’

H: You don’t need to confer with a child’s novelty to talk to me. You have blanket permission.

R: Noted. Also, don’t knock it, Harry. This thing’s the whole reason I asked you out in the first place.

H: I refuse to give it any credit.

R: You wouldn’t. lol So, anyway, you’re at work, right?

H: Of course.

R: Good. What do you usually do for lunch?

H: Work.

R: Don’t you eat?

H: Obviously, when I have the time.

R: Harry, you need to take a lunch break. Meet me in the cafeteria at 12. And don’t you dare say you’re too busy.

H: You do realize I’m your boss, not the other way around.

R: In this context, that doesn’t matter. IN FACT, in this context, I’m the guy who’s going on a date with you this Saturday, and I want to talk to you about it face to face.

H: I’ll be there at 12:30.

R: Perfect. One more thing…

H: Yes, your highness?

R: Funny. You’re good being seen with me around everyone else, right?

H: Why would you ask that?

R: Well… you’re you. And I’m just me.

H: Ramon, you are not ‘just’ anything. You are far more remarkable than you give yourself credit for.

R: You don’t know me well enough to know that.

H: I plan to. Besides, you should be more worried about your colleagues thinking you’ve lost your mind.

R: What? Why?

H: I’m the socially inept, hard tempered, big-bad-asshole founder of S.T.A.R. Labs.

R: Ah, so you’ve heard the office gossip, eh? Lol

H: Yes. I have. And I don’t care. Let people talk. I don’t have time to waste on the opinions of those I’m not close to.

R: In that case… neither do I.

H: Good. 12:30

R: Yup. I hope you like cafeteria meatloaf. It’s today’s special.

H: I’d rather eat out of a dumpster.

R: I’d pay to see you do that.

H: Are you calling me a cheap date?

R: Hardly. I gotta go. Need to earn my paycheck. And I don’t want the boss to think I’m slacking.

H: I won’t tell if you don’t.

R: If you don’t stop making me smile, everyone’s going to know anyway.

H: Challenge accepted.

R: Nope! That was not a challenge! I’m putting my phone away. See you soon.

H: Yes, you will.

Chapter 6: “Are you always this blunt?”

Chapter Text

Harry had stopped at the end of the hallway and was leaning against the wall, hands in his pockets, watching Ramon, who was standing near a drink machine with Snow while she showed him something on her phone. They were both giggling, from what Harry could see. They looked so comfortable with each other, Caitlin leaning easily into him, Ramon’s lips spread in a barely contained smile. Harry almost wished he could hear what they were saying over the murmur of the lunch crowd.

The cafeteria was fairly large, with windows the entire height and length of one wall that brought in natural light. The tables were round and a gray-blue color, most of them filled with employees on their lunch hour break. One side of the cafeteria had a restaurant-style buffet set up, people able to grab whatever they wanted and use their punch cards at the end. A tray drop off sat on a belted counter that fed the empty trays into the kitchen hidden beyond.

It was the middle of the day, so Harry wasn’t surprised to see so many people there. But more than a few who passed him gave him peculiar looks or sheepish smiles. It must have been strange for them to see him. He did go there sometimes, long after most staff had left the campus or in the very early hours of the morning before most of the lab techs came in. But it had admittedly been a while.

When Jesse had gone off to college, he’d spent very little time at home. He’d even had a bed in a glorified closet just off his office. It hadn’t made sense to go home to an empty house or make meals just for himself. Though it was a habit that Jesse eventually found out about. She somehow masterminded the dismantling of his closet-bed during her senior year. And he had no choice but to go back to his lonely house after that. Honestly, he could have replaced the bed. But he promised her that the lab wouldn’t be his whole life when she wasn’t there. That was harder than it seemed. She still didn’t know that he continued to work during his ‘days off.’

Harry wasn’t the type to openly admit he was lonely, though he didn’t hide it, either. After Tess had abandoned them, it had been a weight he’d learned to carry. He couldn’t picture himself navigating life with anyone anymore. Tess had been his partner, and the closest thing he’d ever had to a best friend. Losing her, losing that had shut him down in more ways than one. His own failures as a husband were proof enough that he should just be alone. It was years before he was convinced to try again, but none of those attempts lead anywhere. So, he picked his loneliness up off the floor and put it back in his pocket. He considered it to be more like an old friend now, rather than a burden. Which was why it had been so startling when Ramon had literally run into him those seven months ago.

How could one person so quickly make him think he wanted more than an empty house? How could one person pull him in so efficiently just by existing? How could one person flip his world upside down after one singular moment?

Those were questions he wanted answers to, along with others. Like…

Why did it feel like he’d known Ramon forever? Why had he allowed a single phone call to turn into something so intimate at damn near lightning speed? Why was it when Ramon smiled, exactly like he was smiling right now, that Harry’s heart forgot how to function properly?

It took him a full breath to realize that smile was turned in his direction. Ramon was staring right at him, cheeks a little red. Snow said something to him and he nodded at her before she practically shoved him forward. Ramon stumbled a step, glaring at her for a second before smoothing his t-shirt out and making his way through the expanse of the room toward Harry. And for the entire time it took for Cisco to get from Snow to him, Harry had been holding his breath. Ramon stopped directly in front of him, his smile soft now, hands uselessly flexing at his sides.

“Hi, Harry.” He said, just loud enough for him to hear. And Harry let the air out of his lungs.

“Hi, Ramon.” Harry was smiling in return before he knew it. And Cisco stepped even closer.

“Right on time.”

“Always.” Harry nodded.

“Good to know.” Ramon’s eyes were sparkling at him. Literally sparkling. Unless that was Harry’s imagination, which it damn well could have been. “So, lunch?” He nodded his head in the direction of the buffet. Harry glanced over at it, and apparently didn’t do a very good job of schooling his disgust at the idea of meatloaf because Cisco chuckled. “You don’t actually have to eat the meatloaf, Harry.” He reached out and grabbed Harry by the hand.

Just like that.

No hesitation.

And he practically dragged Harry forward before letting go.

At that point, Harry’s feet had minds of their own as he followed with no need for further motivation, still able to feel the pressure from Cisco’s fingers in his palm.

“I’m a sandwich guy myself. And they have damn good Italian subs here.” Ramon said over his shoulder, grabbing two clean trays and handing one over to Harry. They made their way down the line and Harry watched as Ramon grabbed two Italian subs, setting one on each tray. Then two apples, a couple bottles of water, and a pair of brownies. Not once did he ask if Harry even wanted any of it. And… well… not once did Harry protest. Mostly because he liked all the items Ramon had chosen. And because he wasn’t quite sure what the etiquette was for this sort of thing.

Maybe the gossip mongers were right. Maybe he was socially inept.

After they’d both run their cards, Cisco led him to an empty table near one of the large windows, sitting down without pretense. Harry sat across from him, watching as Cisco simply began unwrapping his sub. He was such a goddamn conundrum. Sometimes, he seemed entirely confident. Completely at ease in his skin and ready to handle every situation. Other times, he seemed shy, reserved, self-deprecating. Harry wanted to know all the reasons why. Ramon slowly raised his brows at him, dropping the rolled-up saran wrap from his sub onto his tray.

“Aren’t you hungry?” He asked in slight amusem*nt.

“I’m not sure.” Harry admitted, looking down at his own food. “I’m more curious.”

“About?”

“You.” He looked back up at him, and Cisco’s face softened considerably. “You said you wanted to talk about Saturday.”

“We can talk and eat at the same time.” He said, then winked before picking up his sub and taking a bite. Harry didn’t really know what to say to that. Cisco wasn’t wrong. So, he simply went about unwrapping his own sub. He could feel Ramon watching him. He took a bite. Only then did Cisco nod and smile again. “You said we weren’t exactly winging it for Saturday. What did that mean?” Straight to the point. Damn.

“Don’t like surprises?” Harry countered, relaxing a little in his chair, watching Ramon shrug.

“Of course I do. I love surprises.” He said brightly. “Who doesn’t?”

“I don’t. Unless I’m the one doing the surprising.”

“That’s hardly fair.” Ramon set his sandwich down and grabbed his water, unscrewing the top. “How is anyone supposed to do something nice for you if you get grumpy about it?” Harry smirked.

“I’m perfectly capable of pretending for the sake of others, Ramon.”

“Uh huh.” Ramon gave him a dubious look before taking a swig of his water. “You are not allowed to pretend with me. About anything. And I still wanna know what we’re doing Saturday. Not because I don’t like surprises, but because…” He set the water down, and his eyes drifted to the center of the table, his voice softening. “Well, it’s our first date, right? I want to be prepared.” There was that shyness again. It took a moment of Harry not responding for him to look back up. And a light confusion filled his eyes. “What’s that look for?” He asked quietly. Harry knew what look he was talking about. He might have been able to hide his contempt for surprises, but he was fairly sure he’d never be able to hide his fondness for Ramon. He pushed his tray a little away from himself, leaning forward. Ramon visibly swallowed.

“Whatever it is you’re worried about, don’t be.” Harry said just loud enough for Ramon to hear. He watched his expression change again, to something content.

“At least,” he smiled almost delicately, “Tell me what I should wear.” Harry felt his own expression shifting to adoring immediately, and Ramon huffed a small breath. “And what I have to do for you to keep looking at me like that.” Cisco’s brows went up a second after he spoke, as though he hadn’t meant to say it out loud, clear panic settling into his eyes. But Harry reached across the table and put his hand over his, making him still.

“I was told that I am not allowed to dress like this on a date,” He motioned to himself with his free hand, “So I suppose we could both clean up a little, if you’d like.” He let his hand go carefully, “And… all you have to do is be everything you are, Ramon. That’s enough for me.” Cisco was watching him intently, like he fully expected him to take the words back. But Harry looked around for a moment, then glanced down at their trays before pushing his chair out a bit. “I’m not hungry, actually.” He stood up, then came around the table slightly. “And I have a meeting in about ten minutes. But…” He looked beyond Ramon toward the secure double doors on the other side of the cafeteria that led to a service hallway that barely anyone used. “Come with me?” He made it a question, looking back down at him.

Not once had Ramon stopped looking at him. And for a change, Harry couldn’t tell what expression he was making. But then Cisco pushed his own chair and stood up. And Harry didn’t second guess it, moving toward the doors without another word. He could almost feel Ramon following close behind. Harry ignored every set of eyes on the way, stopping at the doors and using his passcode to unlock them. Then he opened one and motioned for Ramon to step inside.

It was a long stretch of gray hallway that led to another set of doors at the end, one that accessed the back end of the kitchen, and one that led to the south end of the basem*nt. The hallway itself was, just as he’d hoped, empty. When the door clicked shut behind them, Harry turned around and stood still. Cisco stopped in his tracks and stared right up at him, barely a few feet between them.

“Ramon-“

“Harry-“

They spoke each other’s name at the same time. Cisco chuckled and Harry smiled easily, feeling the tension flee. Then a comfortable silence surrounded them. And everything Harry had wanted to say seemed a million miles away. It was Ramon who stepped closer.

“Last night,” He spoke gently, “Was a first for me.” Cisco’s eyes darted from Harry’s eyes to his mouth and back, and that soft touch of red rose to his cheeks again. Back to being confident. Harry was going to get whiplash, and he knew right then and there that he was going to enjoy every moment of it.

“Phone sex.” Harry stated simply. And Ramon laughed lightly, shaking his head.

“Yes. Phone sex.” He smirked at Harry. “Are you always this blunt?”

“Only when it’s necessary.” Harry lifted a hand, then, bringing his fingers up to Cisco’s hair. He waited for a sign that Ramon didn’t want him to go further, but when he didn’t move away, Harry gently smoothed his fingertips across Cisco’s temple, curling his hair behind his ear. It was as soft as he’d thought it would be. Ramon’s eyes closed almost lazily, like it was somehow soothing to be touched so simply. “Like now.” Harry said, lifting his other hand, cupping Ramon’s other cheek, thumb sliding across his skin. His warmth seeped into Harry’s palm. “I’ve wanted to kiss you since that phone call. In fact, I dreamed about it.” Ramon’s eyes opened, and he took a deep breath, letting it out slowly.

“You can.” He nodded, dark hues locked on his. “I want you to.”

“We don’t have to move fast, Ramon.” Harry half-whispered. “I… I want to do this right. I need to.” He meant that, with every fiber of his being. He was beginning to think he’d been pining for Ramon forever without realizing it. He knew it now, and that was more than enough reason to take every step that came next very, very carefully.

“You will. We both will.” Cisco’s voice had grown just as hushed. “But we can still do this… we can kiss. It’s not moving fast if we both want it.” He rose up right after and didn’t give Harry any more time or room to speak. Because his lips brushed over Harry’s, warm and lingering just soft enough, his hands sliding over Harry’s ribs. And Harry couldn’t think past the fact that they were here, they were doing this, they both wanted this.

His fingers curled into Cisco’s hair, the soft and silky waves spreading. Cisco’s warm hands smoothed further around his sides toward his back. And their lips moved slowly together, testing the waters, finding a rhythm that wasn’t as fast as both of their hearts suddenly were.

Cisco took a step forward without disconnecting, Harry moving back as though under some spell, unable to deny anything Ramon would have wanted in that moment. And he kept going till his back met the wall, flourishing a quick ache, and Ramon was lined up completely against him, both their mouths opening, that kiss becoming something so much more engulfing and far more satisfying.

They were slow about this, too. Steady, somehow. Their tongues swept along each other’s, silk and heat, as Ramon’s arms curled around his neck and shoulders. Harry’s hands had moved, one to Cisco’s lower back, one to the back of his neck beneath his hair, as though he couldn’t get him close enough. In fact, he absolutely couldn’t. He wanted him so close that he’d feel nothing but Ramon for days.

There had been moments in Harry’s life when everything made sense…

The moment he’d finally figured out what he’d wanted to do with his existence.

The moment he’d met Tess.

The moment the labs were finished being built.

The moment Jesse was born.

The moment the accelerator came online.

The moment he’d almost died with a name burned into his brain.

And this moment. With the man the name belonged to. As though his whole life had finally found the one moment, and the one person, that erased any bad and made everything else make sense.

The kiss only seemed to grow deeper at the realization, like maybe Ramon was reading his mind. Or maybe he was having the same thought as Harry. But that couldn’t be, right? Because they’d only just started this. And hadn’t they just agreed they wouldn’t move too fast? Wouldn’t feeling that way be the definition of ‘too fast?’ But his thoughts fled as one of Cisco’s hands slid up into Harry’s hair, fingers curling into his scalp, like Ramon had found the shut off button to Harry’s brain. His body would just have to do the thinking for him for a few minutes. Harry was certainly not complaining.

The kiss eventually and naturally lightened, till they both separated just enough. Ramon’s breath was hot against his mouth and Harry wasn’t quite ready to open his eyes yet, happy to have the weight of Cisco’s forehead against his own, as well as the weight of his body pressed up against his so perfectly.

“Call me again tonight.” Cisco whispered, voice slightly labored, making Harry’s brain start working again. “I don’t think I can go until Saturday without hearing your voice.”

“I promise.” Harry whispered back.

“I don’t think I can wait until then to kiss you again, either.”

“Then don’t.” Harry stated and Cisco smiled against his mouth as he pressed a kiss to his, once, twice, again.

“It’s not like I can stroll up to your office or lab every time I think about it.” Cisco pulled back enough to look at him. And yes, his eyes were definitely sparkling. Harry was sure of it.

“Why not?” Harry lifted his chin a little, sliding his hand out from behind Ramon’s hair and gently sweeping the wayward strands away from his face. Cisco blinked at the touch, but kept smiling.

“Well, first of all, I don’t have security clearance. Secondly, it’s not exactly professional, ya know. And… people will see.” He looked to the side, to the double doors they’d come in, straightening a little against Harry before he looked back.

“Ramon,” Harry smirked a little, “I didn’t ask you to come in the hall because I was trying to hide you.” He pushed a little away from the wall, hands moving down to Ramon’s hips. Cisco gripped onto his shoulders, peering at him. “I didn’t want the possibility of our first kiss to be anything but private. For intimacy’s sake, I’d rather not share any of our firsts with anyone else. But don’t for a moment think that means I don’t want to be seen with you.” He kissed Ramon again, slow and tender, because he could. Because he wanted to. And it was clear Ramon was all for it because he melted right on the spot, leaning his frame back into him. This time, when they pulled back, Ramon let out a very heavy, slow breath.

“How long do you think this hallway is?” He asked, blinking his eyes lazily open. Harry raised a brow, pulling back enough to see him clearly.

“Fifty feet, maybe. Why?”

“Because… as we’ve already established, depending on the context, hearing you talk does things to me. Add that to your exceptionally talented mouth and now I think I’m going to need to walk around for a minute or two after this.” Ramon smirked, blushing again. For a second, Harry was confused until he realized what he meant. And just like that, they were both laughing until Harry’s phone alarm went off. They separated, and Harry pulled his phone out to shut it off. “You’re gonna be late.” Ramon reached forward, smoothing out Harry’s shirt a little, then reached up and attempted to tame some of Harry’s hair. “You’re always on time, remember?” He dropped his hand with a smile. And Harry’s own smile was as affectionate as it could possibly be at this point.

“I’ll call you tonight, at nine.” He assured, leaning forward and kissing Cisco chastely one more time. Then he stepped back, trying so hard not to just call the meeting off. Because, quite honestly, he’d much rather be settled right there in Ramon’s atmosphere.

There would be time for that. He was sure of it. And that was the hope he held on to as he made his way down the hall, out the other set of doors, fighting every step of the way not to turn back around and kiss Ramon one more time…

Chapter 7: "I'm so excited for you."

Chapter Text

Cisco sat down on a stool at the long metal table that Caitlin was organizing test samples on. He plopped his elbows down, settling his chin into his palms, and stared across at where she was sitting. She raised both brows at him slowly, as though something about how he looked was telling all there was to tell. It must have been her woman’s intuition, because then a grin spread across her lips in record time as she practically bounced in place, a light squeal emerging from her throat. Cisco didn’t even stop her. He just grinned back, ignoring the lab tech at the other table who looked over at them in confusion.

She set her clipboard and pen down, scooting forward and mimicking Cisco’s pose.

“He kissed you. He sooo kissed you.” She whispered, her excitement palpable.

“Actually, I kissed him first.” Cisco said. Her happiness only seemed to heighten his. In fact, he felt soft and soothed and like he’d sailed beyond cloud nine on a rocket ship fueled by pure affection. It was… new. Feeling this content, this pulled in.

“Is he a good kisser?” She wiggled her brows at him, “I bet he’s good.” She added, “Did you kiss in the cafeteria? In front of everyone?!” And Cisco chuckled, shrugging a little.

“No, we were in the service hall, you weirdo.” He straightened a little, but folded his hands on the table top. “I think we’d still be there right now if he hadn’t needed to go to a meeting. He’s… incredible. Actually, I can’t remember enjoying kissing anyone that much.” He felt heat rise to his cheeks for about the millionth time, and he let out a huff of a breath. “We talked a bit, and we both agreed we want to take this slow, but…” he shook his head, smiling lightly. “I don’t know if I’m going to have the willpower. Not after this and last night.”

“Last night.” She dropped her hands, narrowing her gaze a bit. “What happened last night?”

It was easier to admit this stuff to Caitlin than it was to Barry. Barry was great for bad jokes, being a safe and steady presence, and telling Cisco the truth even if he didn’t want to hear it. Caitlin was Cisco’s go-to for all things serious, all things comforting, all things relationship-advice.

“Well, he texted me so I’d have his number. And we started talking. It was late but I couldn’t sleep so I told him he could call me. And… he brought up the muon collider. I started going on this tangent, and he never once told me to stop. He just… listened. And then told me that I’m positively marvelous.” He smiled wistfully down at the table, recalling the sound of Harry’s voice. “That’s what he said, his exact words. Then the conversation kept going and…” he licked his lips and swallowed before looking back at her, leaning a little in so the lab tech wouldn’t hear, “It got pretty heated. In an amazing way.” She blinked at him, then her brows went up and her mouth made an ‘oh’ shape, like she’d had a very clear realization of what he meant.

“Wow.” She said. “Seriously, wow.”

“Is that a good ‘wow’ or a bad ‘wow?’” He asked, and she shook her head, reaching out and grabbing his hand. He let her.

“Honestly, I don’t think I could have guessed that would happen even if I’d tried. Are you… did you want to do that?” She asked tentatively, gauging his reaction. And he smiled instantly.

“Believe me, I couldn’t have predicted it, either. But we both needed it. It was… really good. Really nice.” He nodded at his own words. “You don’t have to worry about me. I know what it feels like to be taken advantage of, remember?” He smiled at her. “Harry’s not like that.”

“I know he’s not.” She smiled back. “Can’t fault me for being protective.” Her smile slowly turned into a grin. “So phone sex, huh.” She half-whispered as the lab tech got up and moved to a machine at the far end of the lab. “What was that like?” Cisco chuckled at her and she squeezed his hand. But he shrugged.

“It was effortless. I mean, I’m not exactly a newbie, right? But I’d never done that before. And he had this way of talking that just…” he sighed contentedly, “He pressed every single button without trying. The things he said, the sound of his voice.” He cleared his throat, realizing her face was just lit up with intrigue. “Sorry,” he mumbled, “Too much info?”

“God, no. Are you kidding?” She motioned to her belly. “I haven’t had sex since they said we had to be careful. It’s been six months, Cisco. Six. Months.” She said almost sadly, then pulled her hand back and smoothed both of her palms over stomach. “I now get to live vicariously through you.”

“Maybe you and Ronnie should try phone sex.” He smirked. He knew Caitlin had a high-risk pregnancy. The placenta had torn during the first trimester. And although it had healed on its own, ultrasounds had shown that it was still pretty thin where the tear had happened. She had to sit most of the day, and couldn’t overexert herself. Which meant no extracurricular activities until after the baby came. Caitlin chuckled at him.

“Ya know, we tried that once. We ended up laughing too hard to get anywhere. Which means you are now the only expert I know. Which also means, you cannot keep all the juicy details to yourself.”

“Caitlin, I love you, but you are not getting all the juicy details.” He stated, and she smirked.

“At least tell me what the kiss was like. More than ‘he’s incredible.’ I hear older guys know what they’re doing.” She wiggled her brows.

“It has nothing to do with him being an older guy. I just think he’s talented. I mean… if I told you getting to kiss him was like getting caught in an earthquake I would have happily let kill me, would that sound masoch*stic?” He asked, grinning. She let out a snort and then laughed with that encapsulating loud giggle she had. He chuckled at her and waited for her to compose herself. “Seriously, he’s very good. Thorough and thrilling and…” his eyes drifted and he let out a slow breath, “I didn’t want to stop.” When he realized Caitlin wasn’t responding, he looked back at her to see her smiling in a way he hadn’t ever seen on her before. “What?”

“You’re a goner.” She stated clearly. And Cisco knew she was one hundred percent right. He could feel it. And she could see it. Harry had him. Hook, line, sinker.

“Can I ask you a question now?”

“Okay…” She narrowed her gaze at him.

“When did you know that what you have with Ronnie was different from anyone else?” He folded his arms lazily, watching her reaction. “And, before you say anything… no matter how gone I am, we’re not moving fast, I told you that. We both want to get this right. I just… after all my failures, all my bad luck, I’m just curious how you knew that what you have with Ronnie is real.” Caitlin got quiet, thoughtfully so, then looked down at her clipboard for a spell before answering.

“He told me he was sorry.” She said, “You remember, our first date? I called you in tears because I thought he stood me up, and he wasn’t answering my messages. It wasn’t till the next morning that I found out he didn’t go to the right restaurant because the taxi dropped him off at the wrong address, and when he figured it out and went to call me, he dropped his phone and it got crushed on the sidewalk when a bike messenger drove over it.”

“I was ready to erase his existence.” Cisco nodded. Caitlin smiled lightly.

“It was all just a series of ridiculous events that weren’t really his fault.” She continued, “But when he saw me, he wouldn’t stop apologizing. He was heartbroken at the thought that he’d lost his chance. And that he’d hurt me. So he just kept saying it. ‘I’m sorry.’ Not just because he felt obligated to but because he was genuinely sorry. I hadn’t had the best of luck before him, either, Cisco. The relationships I’d had before went up in their own individually monumental flames, too. You remember. But the moment he said the words… ‘I’m sorry’… that was the moment I knew he was different. Because no one I had ever been with had ever been so genuine before.” She leaned her elbows back on the table, folding her arms together. “What was it for you?”

“What?” Cisco blinked lightly, confused for a moment.

“I hadn’t even had my first date with Ronnie, and I knew. Just like you already know with Harry. You’re not just gone, Cisco. You’re in another galaxy.” She smiled softly, “You don’t have to move fast for your heart to have it figured out. So… what was it for you?” She asked again, reading him like a damn ABC book, always so intuitive. It was one of the things he loved about her the most. He smiled warmly, despite himself.

“When he called me beautiful…” he started softly, watching her eyes take on a familiar look of affection she only turned toward him and Barry, “When we were on the phone last night, he asked me why I asked him out. We got to talking about what we thought about each other, and he said some pretty wonderful things. And then he told me I was beautiful. No one’s ever said that before. I know it’s just a word. I don’t know why it hit me so hard, but…” he shifted in his seat, feeling a touch of the warmth he’d felt then. “I felt like I’d waited specifically for Harry to be the one to say that to me. Then, when we were in the cafeteria earlier, he was just staring at me.” He looked right at her.

“I wasn’t thinking straight, I sort of blurted, ‘What do I have to do to for you to keep looking at me like that?’ I didn’t mean to say it out loud. It just kinda came out. And I thought for a second I must’ve done something stupid. But then he said… all I have to do is be everything I am.” He looked down at the table, feeling a strange tightness in his chest. Not in a bad way. More as though he suddenly had more emotion than he knew what to do with. “In just a few seconds each time, he made me feel something no guy I’ve been with ever has. He made me feel like… who I am is enough. I’ve never felt like I’m enough with anyone but you and Barry.” Cisco continued, then inhaled sharply, trying not to feel the full weight of what those words meant and he flattened his palms to the table, clearing his throat a little. “I liked feeling that, Caitlin. And I don’t know how I know, but-“

“You just know.” She said for him, smiling, her eyes glistening wet. “He’s the one.” She let out a sound that might’ve been sad if she wasn’t smiling, and a tear rolled down her cheek. Her emotions flipped a lot like that since she’d gotten pregnant, but Cisco could hardly hold it against her. Especially not now. Then she stood up and rounded the table, coming up and hugging him from behind, pressing her cheek to his. He sucked in a few breaths, trying not to let his own tears out. Why were they such a mess? Shouldn’t they just be happy?

Maybe that’s why he was a mess. Because he was happy. And the realization of what that really meant was like having the weight of the world lifted off him. He hugged Caitlin’s arms to himself, closing his eyes.

“I’m so excited for you.” She whispered. “For both of you.”

“So am I. But I’m also scared. What if-“

“Don’t. Don’t even think it.” She straightened up and he turned on his stool to look at her. “Cisco, let me tell you what I know.” She held his face in both her hands, “I’ve seen how he looks at you. Whether it’s been one hour, three days, seven months, or seven years since you’ve met… you’re it for him, too.” She bent over and kissed the top of his head. And when she straightened up, she made a slight ‘ouch’ sound before planting a hand on her belly.

“Kicking you hard?” Cisco asked, watching her shirt shift a little. She nodded.

“Like clockwork. Every two hours or so. Here…” She reached for his hand, and he let her place it right on her stomach. He felt the baby move immediately. “Oh, now you’re just showing off for Uncle Cisco, huh.” She said, looking down at her belly. Cisco smirked and leaned in a little, talking to her stomach.

“Take it easy on her, kid. You’ve still got a month left in there. Give your momma a rest.”

“Jellybean gets it from Ronnie.” She smiled, then smoothed her free hand over Cisco’s head as he sat up straight, dropping his hand. “I love you, ya know. Let yourself be happy, Cisco. Listen to what your heart is telling you. And trust Harry to be the man you already know he is. You’ll get your happily ever after, too.”

For the first time in a very long time, Cisco had a very real hope that Caitlin was right…

Chapter 8: “I want all of that with you, too.”

Chapter Text

It had been a long day of difficult individuals. First the phone call with Tess. Then a pair of techs who were trying to have a ‘good time’ and inadvertently locked themselves in a storage unit by overloading the door circuit. Then a handful of pencil pushers who Harry was sure had only one mission… annoy the sh*t out of him on a weekly basis. The only saving grace in it all was Ramon. Those far too short minutes at lunch and the unforgettable kissing that followed had eased his way through every unforgiving moment. He’d even left work at a decent hour so he could keep his promise, and be away from work to do it.

Harry had just wrapped his towel around his waist after hastily drying his hair and stepping out of the shower when his phone went off. He moved toward the sink of the master bathroom, wiping his palm down his toweled thigh before picking it up. ‘Ramon’ lit up the screen, and Harry felt his chest get full. He smiled instantly, clearing his throat as he looked at his silhouette in the fogged-up mirror and pressed answer, holding the phone up to his damp ear.

“Hello, Ramon.”

‘Hiya, Harry.’ He sounded instantly happy, and Harry’s eyes wandered down to the sink, imagining him smiling. ‘I know you said you would call me, but… the whole train ride home, I had to fight the urge to call you first. And I sort of lost the battle once I got through my own door.’ Harry chuckled, grabbing his watch and glancing at the time. 8:41. He smiled and set it back down on the small tray beside the sink.

“I’m not complaining. I’m just glad you waited for me to get out of the shower.” He commented, “I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it.” He turned away from the still foggy mirror and stepped out of the bathroom into his bedroom.

It was a simple space, despite the capacity of it. Wide open, with light blue walls, a queen-sized bed in dark blues, two gray nightstands with matching silver washed lamps, dark hardwood floors, high vaulted ceiling with two ceiling fans, and a desk in the corner cluttered with various papers, magazines, and mail. There was a dresser on the far wall, the same color as the nightstands, and that’s what he headed for. He heard a loud car horn on the other end of the line, and he paused with his hand on a drawer.

“Are you outside?” He asked. And Cisco sighed almost contentedly.

‘There’s a fire escape outside my apartment that I can access from my window. My cat, Molly, and I like to sit on it when the weather’s nice. There’s a lady across the way, Madeline Mavis, who plays jazz music all hours of the day and night. She was a cabaret dancer in Vegas once upon a time. And the guy upstairs, Mr. Watts, is a retired biology teacher who likes to bake pies. He’ll set them up on the grates to cool, so it always smells like cinnamon and apples this time of year. Oh, and the couple underneath Mrs. Mavis, Betty and Felix, have these fairy lights everywhere. They switch up the colors every season. Right now they’re all oranges and reds. They’re both artists. They’ll sit on their fire escape and paint when it’s warm.’

Harry had gone completely still listening to him talk, able to picture every bit of it. Even smell it. And he dropped his hand from the dresser, drawn in by the simple yet mesmerizing descriptions. He wandered to his own tall, wide, sliding glass doors. The dark blue curtains were still open, and he peered out at the barely visible yard beyond, the night casting the world in shadows.

‘Oh, hey, there’s Mrs. Mavis. She must’ve just gotten back from walking her dog. She just started up some Louis Armstrong. Can you hear it?’ Cisco asked, and Harry thought he must have pulled the phone away, because he could hear the opening to La Vie en Rose. A moment passed, and Cisco spoke with that familiar smile in his voice. ‘This is one of my favorites.’ Harry thought he heard someone call out. And Cisco called back, ‘Hi, Mrs. Mavis.’ A pause as someone called out again, ‘Yes, ma’am, I’m good.’ Cisco’s voice went back to normal, ‘She’s always asking if I eat. She’ll leave food at my window during the day if I ever say no.’

“Your neighborhood sounds amazing.” He admitted.

‘It’s the city. I mean… it’s not all like this. The dumpster behind the building never gets emptied on time. And the cops have been to the complex across the street every night this week. But we make it work.’ He heard a small ‘meow’ and the scraping of what sounded like metal on metal before Cisco sighed, like he’d sat down in a chair. ‘What about you? What’s your neighborhood like?’

“I don’t really have one.” He reached beside the sliding glass door, touching a panel on the wall. The lights in his room dimmed to nearly off, allowing him to see out. “I live on the outskirts of the city, in Arrow Hills. The nearest neighbor is about a mile away. Tess and I originally bought the house just after the labs opened, we wanted the land. The trees and the fields. The quiet to do our work in. And the view.” He opened the door and felt the soft coolness of the air hit his damp skin. He stepped out onto the deck, wandered to the railing and leaned against it.

“The backyard is what my father would have called ‘untended lawn.’ When Jesse was nine, she was obsessed with color. Rainbows and oil slicks and food dye. So I planted wildflowers of every color over the entire yard. She made me promise I would never cut them. Instead, I put a picnic table in the middle of it all, and every Spring, we’d eat dinner in the yard. I hung a hammock from the overhang, and on summer nights she’d fall asleep to the hum of the city below.” He could see beyond the property line, straight down toward the never-ending lights, as though he were sitting on top of the world. “You can see it all from up here. The city looks like a galaxy in itself.” His voice had gotten soft, eyes roaming straight toward where he knew S.T.A.R. Labs was, at the center of the city, its beacons reaching high into the sky. “It’s humbling.” He nearly whispered.

At the moment, the yard was dry and gray, even in the dark. And he hadn’t gone near the picnic table since Jesse had left for college. She had her own place now that she was graduated and well into the beginning of her career. It was in the city, not far from the labs. And though he saw her nearly every day at work, it had been a long time since she’d walked through the doors of her childhood home. He’d known it would happen. And he was happy for her. Every parent worth their salt should want their children to build their lives beyond the ones they grew up in. But what he’d been left with was too much space, too much silence, too much time to revisit how lonely he actually was.

‘It sounds beautiful.’ Cisco’s tone was hushed, pulling his attention. ‘Perfect, even.’ He sounded… sad? Harry straightened a little, looking down at the railing.

“Ramon?” He asked softly, “What’s wrong?”

‘What? No, nothing. I-‘

“No pretending, remember.” Harry cut him off. And Cisco sighed a little.

‘You’re not supposed to use my own wisdom against me.’

“Consider it a rule of honesty for both of us at all times.” Harry smiled a little, turning back toward the open door and the bedroom. He stepped back in without closing the door.

‘That’s… fair. But it might be too soon to reveal everything I’m thinking. I mean, last thing I want to do is scare you away before I get to personally see you in a suit.’

“Who said anything about suits?” Harry joked lightly. Ramon huffed a light sound.

‘You said we could clean up for our date. That means suits, Harry.’

“Fine, we’ll wear suits. But you have to promise me something.” There was a beat of silence on the other end and Harry let out a slow breath before continuing, “Believe me when I tell you I’m determined to see where this goes. There’s nothing you can say that will change my mind.” The silence stretched on longer after that, and Harry could clearly hear the jazz playing in the background. He moved to his bed, sitting down on the edge of it, looking down at his dark hardwood bedroom floor. Waiting. He wasn’t going to push. Not on this.

‘Your wife…’ Cisco whispered, then cleared his throat like he’d meant to speak louder than he had. ‘She… did she die?’ He sounded like he wasn’t sure how to ask. Or if he even should. And Harry could admit, he hadn’t counted on that being what Cisco was thinking about. But they’d just agreed to be honest, right?

“No.” Harry said quietly, looking back toward the dark outside. “After Jesse was born, Tess… struggled. Confusion, paranoia, even hallucinations, among many other things.” He rubbed absently at his forehead. “It wasn’t like her. I didn’t know how to help her. And I didn’t realize what was really happening till she almost suffocated Jesse. I walked in on her holding a stuffed bear against her face. And I…” He sighed heavily, dropping his hand, recalling the moment vividly. Harry had never been so scared, practically shoving Tess out of the way and scooping up their screaming daughter into his arms. “The doctors called it postpartum psychosis. It was a difficult time. I found her every resource I could, to try to help her. I couldn’t give up on her. She was hospitalized for a while, they found medications that worked, and by the time Jesse was about a year old, Tess had made a full recovery. Mostly.” He lowered the phone, putting it on speaker.

“Once she was able to see everything clearly, and understand everything she’d done, she couldn’t forgive herself. No matter how much therapy she sought, or how I tried to get her to see that it wasn’t her fault, she couldn’t move on from it. Instead… she turned to drinking, to dull the pain I think. She fought the addiction of it for about three more years. I tried to be as supportive as I knew how, but…” He turned a little, laying down with a heavy breath. “She left the day after Jesse’s fourth birthday. I didn’t hear from her again until nearly a year later when divorce papers arrived in the mail. She gave me complete custody of Jesse. After it was finalized, she disappeared. Now I only hear from her maybe once a year through quick phone calls… so she can ask about Jesse and dis-” He paused, trying not to think about what Tess had said that morning on the phone, “Disappear again.”

‘God, Harry, I’m so sorry. I had no idea.’

“You wouldn’t have. Jesse and I don’t talk to anyone about it. There are very few people who know. You included, now.”

‘I… why?’

“Why?”

‘Why would you tell me?’

“Because I meant what I said, Ramon. I want this to work. I want to do this the right way. So… I want to be honest.” He said easily. Maybe he was a little surprised by his own honesty, too. But it felt right. It felt like a good step. There was shuffling and a soft clunk. The music disappeared in the background, and he assumed Cisco had gone inside. Then there was a slight squeak, like from an old mattress, as though Ramon had plopped down onto one.

‘Compared to literally anyone else you could want, why would you want me? I’m not rich, Harry. I mean, I make a good living I’m proud of, but I live in a studio apartment surrounded by retirees because I’m trying to save as much money as I can. Barry and Caitlin are the only family I have because my parents disowned me for being gay. I wear ridiculous t-shirts every day and I’d rather take a long-ass subway ride home because I’m too cheap to uber. I’m not-‘

“Stop.” Harry said sternly. And he almost had this image of Cisco’s mouth snapping shut. “Ramon, I don’t care about any of that. I don’t care about what you’re not.”

‘What did you just say?’ Cisco half-whispered.

“I said… I don’t care about what you’re not.” Harry repeated softly. And Cisco was achingly quiet. “Ramon?”

‘I asked the 8-ball that question earlier, ya know.’ He heard a soft shuffle. ‘If you would care about all the things I’m not.’ He chuckled lightly. ‘It said… ‘my sources say no.’’ Harry huffed a light laugh.

“Is this going to be a thing with you?”

‘It might be. This toy has been spot on from day one.’

“Well, put it away because I’m going to tell you what that thing can’t.” Harry said, relaxing a hand behind his head, setting the phone on his sternum as he spoke, peering up at the dimly lit, high ceiling. He waited. And then he heard a slight plop.

‘It’s away.’

“Good. Because you need to know that I don’t care what you do or don’t have, or where you came from. I find your dedication to your work and your life admirable. You’re a role model. Everything I’ve learned about you, everything I’ve been told… you live your life like the world’s on fire and you want to get as much out of it while you can. I’ve seen how you are with Snow and Allen. You enrich the lives of everyone you meet, and you never give up on the people you care about.” He said earnestly, continuing before Ramon could interject.

“I think your parents are morons for turning their backs on such a brilliant, remarkable, beautiful man.” Harry closed his eyes. “And I happen to find your shirts amusing. Also, ubers are a ripoff.” He heard Cisco chuckle softly, then heard the bed squeak again like he’d laid down on it. “I don’t know all the important things about you yet, Ramon. But what I do know… is just by being who you are, you woke up things I thought I couldn’t feel anymore. You’re magnetic, and I don’t want to fight your pull. I want to know everything there is to know about you, because I don’t want what you reignited in me to go to sleep ever again.”

Cisco was silent. And Harry felt a bit like he had lost some weight he hadn’t realized he’d been carrying. As though saying that out loud had given him an insight into his own reservations.

“Ramon, I know how people see me. And they’re right to. I was so busy trying not to feel my own damaged parts after Tess left that I threw myself into raising Jesse and growing the labs. I numbed the part of myself that wanted to feel more. It was… easier than the risk of letting someone back in. And after a while, I was pretty sure that part of me died. I tried a few more times, to feel something for someone. But I couldn’t. Then…” He opened his eyes, blinking softly. “You ran into me once, those seven months ago, and you made me feel again. All it took was you spilling coffee on me. I know that doesn’t make sense. The way it sounds…” He shook his head at himself. “But I wasn’t lying when I said I hadn’t felt something like what I feel for you… in a very long time.”

‘You just know.’ Cisco whispered, sounding awed. Like he’d had a realization of his own. ‘Harry… god, I wish you were here right now. Or I was there. Because I would not be able to stop myself from kissing you.’ Harry smiled very softly. Then emptied his lungs, closing his eyes again. ‘You and your goddamn honesty. How am I going to survive you?’ That made Harry laugh a little.

“Imagine how I feel when you smile at me. I’d kill to see that every day.”

‘You don’t have to be homicidal to see me smile. Though it is good to know that’s an option.’

“Well, we could try spending more time together. See if that works first.” Harry mused.

‘This taking it slow thing is a whole lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I blame you.’

“If I didn’t think it would lessen every moment we can have to make this relationship strong, I’d skip to the part where you share my bed.” Harry admitted easily, not even trying to hide the longing in his tone. “That kiss today… it was hardly where I wanted to stop.”

‘You’re not the only one who would’ve kept going. I had a hard on all the way back to my lab.’

“That seems like a pattern.”

‘Can you blame me?’ He could hear the lightness in his tone, like his voice got when he was content. ‘Harry, you’re not the only one who is feeling things here. Every time you talk, you make me think I might just be worth the effort. And that’s a big deal for me. No one’s made me feel that before. I’ve had no luck with relationships. The guys I’ve dated… I’ve been used, controlled, and forced to do things I didn’t want, forced to change who I was to accommodate someone else. The last guy… well, he beat me up because I didn’t quite live up to standards.’ That instantly had Harry’s eyes snapping open.

‘That bit of bad luck landed me in the hospital, and I still blame myself for letting it get that far. I guess… I got gun shy after. It took a long time for me to figure out that I didn’t deserve the stuff they did to me. That I deserved better. But once I’d gotten to that point, I was too afraid to do anything about it. No matter what Barry and Caitlin said.’ Cisco paused, and Harry was trying to swallow down the pit he still felt at the idea that someone had hurt Ramon so badly.

‘You know they’re my family, right? They’ve been my rocks through everything. They sort of adopted me in college.’ He chuckled lightly, ‘We were all so awkward back then. And we were all so different, too. But we sort of gravitated toward each other. And before I knew it, I had an unofficial brother and sister I couldn’t get rid of. Not that I ever would. They’re the ones who are always there when the world tries to beat me down. I… I’ve made it through a lot, all on my own. I know how hard I worked to get where I am now, but I love them both. And I’m grateful for them.’ Harry could hear Ramon, shifting again, like he was lying on his side now. ‘Did you know Caitlin asked me and Barry to be the baby’s god fathers? I’m Uncle Cisco.’

“That’s wonderful, Ramon. Truly. You’re a lucky man.”

‘Damn right I am. I’m going to spoil that baby rotten. It’s going to be overloaded with nerdy goodness. Now I just gotta get her to tell me whether it’s a boy or a girl.’

“I thought she and Raymond wanted to be surprised.” Harry turned onto his own side, careful not to drop the phone, feeling the towel tug uncomfortably tight around his hips. He pulled at the side of it and let it fall open, baring most of his lower half.

‘They do. Doesn’t mean I can’t bug them about it.’ Cisco remarked. ‘Ya know… I still think it’s crazy that Barry and Caitlin know you so well, and I only saw you face to face once in the last seven years before Jitters.’

“I worked directly with Allen’s lab on the accelerator updates last year. I was apparently stuck with him after that. And Jesse has been interning with Snow the last several months. The campus is fairly large, and there are many projects going at any given time. I don’t get to meet everyone who works there. Though I try to keep updated on what people are working on. I knew about all three of you when you were hired. I made sure your requested labs were approved. You all had promise and I wanted you to excel.”

‘I didn’t know that.’ He sounded thoughtful about it.

“HR tends to ask for my opinion on quite a few hires. But if I’d known then what I know now, I’d have tried to meet you far sooner.” He admitted.

‘Can you imagine that? I wonder where we’d be right now if we’d met back then.’

“You’d be right here in my arms, if that were the case.” Harry said, and Cisco chuckled.

‘I like that confidence, Harry.’

“It’s just fact.”

‘Fact, hm.’ Cisco let out a slow, steady breath. ‘Here’s a fact… I’d love to be in your arms right now. I miss that feeling, falling asleep up against another person. I think… I would actually feel safe with you.’

“Ramon,” Harry moved the phone a little up on his pillow, eyes roaming over his name on his screen. “My personality and harsh tendencies are going to drive you nuts from time to time. I know myself. I’m not easy to work for, or to live with. My daughter will tell you I’m overprotective and sometimes overbearing. My colleagues will tell you I’m addicted to work and a ruthless businessman. And my friends, what few of them there are, will tell you I’m very much an acquired taste. But I wouldn’t hurt you like those other men did. Ever.”

‘I know.’ He said softly. ‘And I can’t promise that all this fear I have is something I’ll ever really be able to control. But I wouldn’t leave, Harry. No matter how hard it got.’ He was quiet for a beat. ‘Was that insensitive?’

“No. I forgave Tess a long time ago. She did what she needed to do for herself. But… hearing you say that…” he cleared his throat, well aware of the tightness there, “I don’t think I realized how much I needed that until this moment… someone who stays.” Harry breathed out. “I feel like I’ve known you forever, Ramon. I think this thing is moving fast without our say.”

‘Oh, thank god.’ Cisco whispered, ‘I thought I was the only one who felt that way.’ The relief in his voice was palpable. And so was the idea that they both were on the same page.

“Hardly.”

‘Does that mean we should still wait till Saturday?’ Cisco’s voice had gotten slightly tight, which had an instant effect on Harry. It was already familiar, and already chipping away at his will, ‘To officially date, I mean.’

“To officially date…” Harry felt his heart begin hammering in his chest and he closed his eyes, trying to concentrate on breathing. “We should still pace ourselves, so… yes.” He cleared his throat slightly. “In the meantime, we’ve already taken other steps. Steps we could take again… if you wanted to.”

He knew what he was asking. And he would retract it immediately if that’s what Ramon wanted. But he really hoped that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t much they could do about being physically together in that moment, but they’d already proven they were able to make other ways work perfectly. He was more than willing to experience that again.

‘You said I called you as soon as you got out of the shower. I never heard you get dressed. You didn’t, did you…’ Ramon wasn’t asking. And his voice… sh*t, there was that confidence again, but so much more of it. Deep and concentrated. ‘Which means you’re lying there naked.’ Harry rolled onto his back, bringing a hand up to his forehead, curling his fingers into his own hair without opening his eyes. ‘You told me last time what you would do to me. Can I tell you what I would do to you, if I was there right now?’

Oh, thank god, Ramon wanted the same damn thing. Harry could already feel things reacting just by thinking about that first phone call, things that were demanding to be noticed. And he steadied his breathing, feeling the thumping of his heart against his rib cage. f*ck.

“sh*t, Ramon, you better.” Harry practically grit out, feeling his dick twitch at the idea, already well on its way to full staff.

‘Touch yourself while I tell you?’ He did ask that. And Harry’s breath came out quick. He slid his hand over his bare hip, gliding his fingers over his hardness, giving it a quick pump. ‘Are you?’

“Yes.” He half-whispered. “You?”

‘Damn right, I am.’ Ramon swallowed so hard, Harry could hear the sound of his throat working. ‘I don’t think I would be able to control myself, seeing you. I’ve thought about what your bare body looks like. I felt your muscles when we kissed in the hallway. I wanted to run my hands over every single one. You were so firm against me, and pliable. I’ve imagined what it would feel like, to taste your skin, to trace your muscles… oh…’ He moaned lightly, and Harry’s hand tightened around himself. He craned his neck a little, jaw tightening at the sound. ‘I want to taste you so badly. I can’t function when I think about what your dick must look like. Or what it would feel like against my tongue.’

“f*ck…” Harry moaned lightly, picking up speed, dropping his other hand to his balls, rolling them. It had amazed him how fast this had happened the last time. And just how fast it was happening now.

‘Oh, sh*t…’ Cisco’s breath picked up speed, ‘I want to know how you’d feel inside me, so thick and hard, hitting all the right things…’ Harry was so focused on his voice, so lost on his words, he couldn’t think beyond the pleasure of it. Cisco Ramon was magic, he was sure of it. ‘And how you’d look watching me please both of us? Your eyes are so goddamn beautiful, the way you look at me… do you know what that does to me?’ He moaned again at his own words, and they were both panting by now. Harry’s chest was practically heaving at the idea of Ramon in his lap, pulsing Harry’s length in and out of himself, hair hanging and dick swaying? It lit a fire in Harry’s stomach, made the powerful pressure in his groin grow intensely.

“Ramon, oh, please…” He was… begging? Damn. Cisco had made him beg. That was a first for him. He’d never begged anyone for anything in his entire life. And somehow, Harry was certain he would beg again and again for him.

‘sh*t, say my name again. My name on your lips? Harry, say it again…’ Cisco damn near ordered.

“Ramon.” Harry gave him exactly what he wanted, breathing out his name in a rough tone. And a heady moan was heard on the other end of the line, long and heavy enough to make all the right things in Harry’s body react.

In an instant, he was spilling out into his own hands, stars lighting up beneath his eyelids as the pressure released and he came with his own deep moan. He pumped himself through it, hearing Cisco do the same. How they’d managed this twice was a miracle to him. And he wasn’t a man who believed in miracles. But he’d also never been a man who’d begged before. And now he was laying there, spent and coming down from a high Ramon had guided him effortlessly into.

Moments passed in silence and breathing. Once things stopped twitching and he could think straight, he shifted his hips enough to pull his towel out from beneath himself, cleaning up his hands and stomach. He blinked lazily at the ceiling, feeling tired. But in a good way.

‘I think…’ Cisco began to speak, ‘I don’t want to do this again.’ That made Harry freeze in place, the towel falling from his hand off the side of the bed. Had he heard that right? His heart damn near stalled in his chest. But then Ramon spoke again. ‘What I want is to actually have sex with you.’ He said very clearly, firmly, as confidently as he’d taken control of this call. ‘Over the phone won’t be enough, not anymore.’ Harry felt his heart stall again for a very different reason. And he was smiling as he sighed, relief flooding his veins.

“Let’s do this right, then.” Harry said softly. “Tomorrow morning, first thing I’m going to do is find you. And I’m going to kiss you. More than once. After that, I have to go to CCU for a grant approval. I’ll be back late. I can still call, but you shouldn’t wait. Then Saturday night… suits and dinner, and all the things I have planned. And then… if you’re not sick of me, and really ready for that step, I will gladly take you home with me, Ramon.”

‘Deal.’ Cisco didn’t even hesitate. ‘Harry… I want this with you. And… not just this. I want all of it.’

“All of it?”

‘The whole relationship package. Date nights and couch cuddling and arguments and make up sessions. Deep talks and science and coffee shops and 8-balls. Binge watching bad tv and falling asleep in your arms. I don’t want to just imagine any of that… I want to have it.’ Harry closed his eyes at Cisco’s words, and he plucked the phone up without looking, taking it off speaker and holding it to his ear. ‘I want all of it, with you.’

“I want all of that with you, too.” Harry smiled warmly. “And sex.” He joked. Cisco chuckled.

‘And sex.’ They both laughed. It was ridiculous. ‘I’ll see you in the morning, Harry.’ Cisco said softly, when the laughter had died away and it was just a comfortable silence left behind.

“Yes, you will. Goodnight, Ramon.”

‘Goodnight, Harry.’

Harry waited a breath before he pulled the phone away and hit ‘end.’ But for a moment longer, he stared at the screen of his phone before shutting it off and dropping the device to the mattress. He turned his head to look out the still open sliding glass door. He sat up slowly, pressing his palms into the edge of the bed as his feet met the cold wood of the floor. He stood just as slowly, stretching the ache in his spine, wandering over to the open space and peering out into the cool night, the city lights settled in the distance, beckoning.

For the first time since he’d seen that view, he didn’t focus on the beacons of S.T.A.R. Labs. Instead, he wondered which lights were coming from Ramon’s apartment building. Was Mrs. Mavis still playing jazz? Did the artists still have their fairy lights on? Was Ramon falling asleep to the sounds of a city that didn’t know what rest even was?

Harry hoped so. He hoped Cisco would sleep soundly. He hoped Ramon might just dream about him. And he closed the door, touching the panel beside it again to shut the lights completely off in his room, leaving the curtains open before he climbed into his own bed, fully intending to dream of Cisco Ramon with the city lights glistening in the distance…

Chapter 9: "I plan to."

Chapter Text

At seven in the morning, Cisco was whistling as he shut the building’s door behind him. He’d woken up before his alarm even went off, but he wasn’t even remotely tired. If anything, he was energized to the max. And it was all Harry’s fault.

Last night had been amazing. Was that an overused word? Amazing? Maybe he should use… breathtaking. Or what about spectacular? Magnificent. Sensational. Wonderful. Stupendous. Incredible. Maybe he’d just use all the adjectives that meant anything close to amazing. He needed to invest in a dictionary.

Harry had been perfect. The honesty he was treating Cisco with and the respect that went with it was so refreshing and alluring that Cisco felt himself growing braver by the heartbeat. He could hardly believe they’d only really known each other for just under four days. He might’ve wondered how he’d fallen so hard so fast, but there was a moment last night when he realized that everything Caitlin had said was absolutely possible. And true. Because Harry had practically proven that he felt exactly about Cisco as Cisco felt about him. And that was all he needed. It wasn’t moving fast. It just… was. And they both knew it. It was comforting. There hadn’t been a single moment since that first moment at Jitters to now that Cisco regretted. And he only saw it going effortlessly forward from here.

He just had to find the willpower to get through the day without hunting Harry down and stealing all his attention, a thought that made him grin and practically hop down the front steps. He zipped up his sweatshirt at the bottom, and fixed the strap to his messenger bag before reaching for the front gate that led to the sidewalk.

But as the old rusty metal whined on its hinges, he nearly fell the moment he lifted his gaze. He stopped so quickly in place that his body didn’t quite register that his feet were no longer moving. He watched a small gray sedan drive past very slowly. He swore he knew who was behind the wheel, staring back at him, but it couldn’t be. Right? It just f*cking couldn’t be. He held his breath, and thankfully the car kept moving. And Ramon tore his eyes away, squeezing them shut for a second.

“You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Cisco yelped, backing up and clutching at his chest, eyes flying open. “Oh my goodness!” Betty seemed startled at his reaction, “Are you alright, my boy?” Betty moved the gate wider, her colorful paint splattered hand standing out against the flaking black paint on the metal. She put her free hand on his shoulder, and Cisco forced himself to breathe.

“Yeah, yes, I’m… I’m good.” He forced calm into his bones and looked down the end of the street the car had driven off to. “Honestly,” He smiled back at her, “I’m okay. Just had a late night.” He half lied. Betty gave him a curious look, but then dropped her hand. Her white hair was up in a messy bun, a paint brush stuck through the wavy strands. Her gentle wrinkles were dotted in spots of dried pink and blue paint. Her coveralls had every imaginable color settled into the fabric from years of use.

“I thought I saw your light on for a while.” She slipped her hands into her pockets, then slowly smiled at him. “What has you staying up past your bedtime?” She leaned in a little. “Or should I say who?”

“What?” Cisco raised both brows, genuine surprise crossing his features. Betty laughed.

“Oh, sweety. I saw you talking on the phone on the landing before you went in. Your face, and your eyes?” She pulled a hand out and motioned at him with one finger moving in a circle. “I’m an artist, my boy. I know what love looks like.” She winked at him. “In fact, it was still all over your face a moment ago. Before you practically jumped out of your skin.”

“Is it that obvious?” He asked, curling his hands around his strap, smirking a little.

“Shouldn’t it be?” She asked warmly, and he shrugged.

“It just started, ya know? I don’t want to jump the gun.”

“Ah, well… new love always burns brightest. You’re not going to be able to hide that flame, even if you try. And you shouldn’t want to. Tell me,” She turned to stand beside him, hooking her hand into his arm and urging him into walking down the sidewalk. They picked up a leisurely pace. “Who is he?”

Betty knew Cisco was gay. In fact, all of them did. And it had been surprising at first how accepting they’d all been. Because of his parents, he’d always assumed it was harder for that generation to accept. But they’d proven him wrong.

“He works at the labs.” He said, trying to find the right way to explain it. “Actually, he… um… he runs and owns the labs.” He squinted a little at his own explanation, glancing sideways at her as her brows lifted. But she kept looking forward, keeping the pace. “I never really knew him before. I liked what I heard about him, what I saw from afar. But I never treated it as anything but a foolish crush. Then Barry and Caitlin sort of pushed me out of my comfort zone and made me ask him out. I didn’t expect him to say yes. And every day since has been…” He smiled, looking at a pigeon that lazily wandered across the sidewalk in front of them. “He’s so much more than I imagined. In every good way. He’s honest, intelligent, challenging, funny, caring…” He paused, realizing those were the prerequisites he had listed out to Caitlin and Barry back in Jitters that first day. “And just… more. A lot more.”

“I have to tell you, Cisco,” Betty slowed her steps as they approached the four way, stopping near the edge of the sidewalk as the crossing sign stayed red, “I don’t think I could have pictured that about him.” He looked at her, and she met his gaze with a light smile, her laugh lines crinkling a little. She smelled like paint thinner and pancakes, which was an odd combination, though not bad. “I’ve seen him on the news. That… Doctor Harrison Wells.” It shouldn’t have surprised him. Betty and Felix were very smart, and they knew all about Cisco’s work. Of course she’d know who owned the labs. “He’s in the limelight quite a bit, with all he does for people. Though I always got the feeling, after seeing him on the tv, that he didn’t like the attention very much.” She started walking, and Cisco followed, when the light flashed ‘walk.’ “He’s a good man. And a good looking one, too.” She wiggled her brows at him. Cisco chuckled. “I’m happy for you, boy.” They stopped just in front of the bodega, and she turned into him, hugging him. He hugged her easily back.

“I still don’t want to jinx it,” he said quietly, “But, I’m happy for me, too.” She pulled back and patted his cheeks softly, then squeezed his shoulders.

“There’s nothing to jinx. Being happy isn’t a crime. Don’t be afraid of it. And if how you looked last night was any indication, I think you’ve got something special going on. Trust me. Like I said, I know love when I see it.” She winked at him one more time, then stepped back. “Off to work with you, boy. Go save the world.” She made a shooing motion at him, then turned without another word and went into the store. He couldn’t stop smiling as he started walking again, weaving his way past a dog-walker who had five dogs of various sizes on leashes.

By the time he made it to the subway station, his face hurt a little from smiling so much.

Cisco promised himself, as he sat down on the train, that he wasn’t going to be afraid to be happy. He was going to let himself feel every second of it, without apology or second guessing. Betty was right. He definitely had something special going on. And he was not going to hide it…

* * *
H: Where are you?

R: Just walked in. :) Good morning, Harry.

H: Good morning, Ramon. Come upstairs to my office, please. Your keycard should work in the elevator now.

R: Wow. Access to the top floor without an escort, eh?

H: Stop wasting time. You might just be getting here, but I’ve been here for hours, and I have to be on the road in thirty minutes. Take a left off the elevator. My office door is open.

R: Hint taken. Be there in five.

* * *

When he came upstairs, it was practically a ghost town, not quite seven in the morning yet. The labs usually opened as early as five in some sections. But the top floor offices and the lobby didn’t open till almost eight, only key personnel coming in sooner. Which made going up the secure elevator and stepping out onto the empty top floor a little daunting. It didn’t help that he’d literally never been up there before, or that half the lights were off or dimmed. The odd sound of rubberized tile beneath his shoes didn’t echo. There was a long and wide reception desk just off the elevator, a stretch of hall with wooden doors to the right. But Cisco wasn’t thinking about any of that as he stopped several feet from Harry’s office to the left.

There was a light on, shining through the glass doors. It was warm and inviting and somehow eased some of the nerves that were pretty much on overdrive at this point. After their kiss yesterday, the phone call last night, and the night before, it didn’t make sense to be this nervous. Phone sex wasn’t exactly innocent, which meant Cisco could honestly say he knew what Harry sounded like when he got off. So why did this feel so much more intimate than that? Why did it feel like he was seeing into a world that Harry hadn’t shown him yet?

He was never going to get an answer standing out there in the hallway.

Somehow, despite his own hesitation, he made his way to the open doors and found himself stopping just in the doorway, staring straight ahead at Harry hunched over a set of plans on a large square drawing table. He had a thin pencil in-between his lips, and was erasing something off one of the plans with a gray eraser, holding the thin paper in place with his free hand. Cisco’s eyes had been drawn instantly to him, standing there in a dark gray cardigan and black casual slacks like he was ready for a meeting, once again with those serious blue eyes peering down at his work through dark rimmed glasses. And he felt all the hesitation melt out of his bones, taking another step in.

The office was large. Wall to wall bay windows took up the back, peering out at the campus and the city beyond. Harry’s desk was glass and white marble, cluttered with paperwork and schematics and folders, his laptop barely visible under the chaos. A large gray couch sat tucked up against the side wall and two white chairs sat in front of his desk. The floor was dark gray, high traffic rug. There were two tvs on the other wall, playing news from different parts of the country on mute. And despite the richness, the space, and the luxury of it all, his eyes were drawn only to Harry.

"What’s got all of your attention?” Cisco asked, surprised his voice sounded so normal. Harry’s eyes instantly darted up, and he dropped the pencil out of his mouth and into his hand in one easy motion that should not have looked so damn hot. He straightened, smiling lightly, eyes going from serious to sparkling in an instant. And Cisco was smiling back without much encouragement needed.

“You do, now.” He said, tossing the pencil down, taking his glasses off, setting them aside, and rounding the table, wandering toward him.

“Just like that, huh?”

“Absolutely.” Harry stopped before him, eyes roaming over his. “It’s difficult to do anything else, with you in my focus.” He stepped even closer, hands coming up so easily, his eyes so goddamn intent. “I’ve had to redo my math four times since I started this morning. I never redo math, Ramon.” He almost sounded like he was chastising him, his palms smoothing over Cisco’s cheeks, fingers curling into his hair. The sheer wonder he felt at being looked at so longingly, and touched so reverently, even just that little bit, had Cisco closing the space between them, grabbing Harry by the ribs and rising up to press their mouths together. The feel was soft and warm, and Harry’s mouth gave in to his immediately.

He felt like his heart had slowed down and his mind had become muddied all at once. But his lips… those seemed like they knew what to do. And so did Harry’s. Their mouths worked together, as though they had done this all their lives, as though they were made for this. And Cisco sighed into the pressure, the feel of each sweep, his mouth opening just enough to dart his tongue out, vying for whatever access Harry was willing to allow.

Harry’s tongue met his own, on the same exact page, like a rhythm, like a wave, like music notes. And Cisco was happily reminded that Harry was exceptional with that tongue, with those lips. He felt like he couldn’t get close enough to him, air getting trapped in his lungs as his hands clung to Harry’s hair and shoulder.

Harry’s arms had wrapped around him, holding him close and firm and somewhat up. And he was glad for that, because he felt a little like his legs wanted to give out on him. Because holy sh*t… this was the kiss to end all kisses. But dammit… that air thing… that was important. He needed that to live, and so did Harry. When they pulled back, both breathing a fair bit heavier than before, Harry turned him a little and forced him backward. Cisco felt his heart try to erupt out of his chest in the most exciting way, his back suddenly pressed into the wall beside the still open doors.

Cisco could smell Harry’s aftershave. He could still taste the lingering residue of fresh coffee. He could feel Harry’s warmth radiating into his own. Harry’s eyes were locked on him, his hands smoothing down Cisco’s sides, lower behind him, stopping just above his rear, curled around his hips. And Cisco rested his own hands on Harry’s upper arms, strong and firm beneath his palms.

“If I’d known what I was missing, I’d have stayed after spilling coffee on you.” Cisco whispered, breath catching.

“You’re here now.” Harry lowered his gaze, down to Cisco’s lips, lower… slowly coming back up. “And I’m not done kissing you yet.” He didn’t skip a beat, mouth back on his, and body solid against him. Okay, so maybe Cisco had been wrong. Because this was actually the kiss to end all kisses.

Right that moment, he was more sure than he had ever been about anything that he would absolutely and happily let Harrison Wells ruin him. And just thinking about it made a moan travel up his throat, and into Harry’s mouth as their tongues tried so hard to mimic a tango. Cisco’s hands grew minds of their own, wandering over the material of Harry’s clothes, fingers inspecting the lines of the muscles in his back, down, nearly jumping at the sudden feel of Harry’s belt. Stupid piece of leather, getting in the way.

Harry reached behind himself with one hand, grabbing Cisco’s wrist and guiding his hand past the belt. Cisco’s fingers brushed over his rear and he wasn’t going to waste the permission that was just given to fondle that damn good looking ass. He had to admit, it felt as good in his palm as it looked like it would. Harry’s mouth dragged away from his, across Cisco’s jaw, towards his throat. And Cisco’s head fell back, thunking against the wall, eyes rolled shut as the sensation of that man’s lips rolled shivers right up his spine.

“Oh, sh*t…” he whispered, realizing he was already hard and rearing to go. Which was a problem, right? A really big problem. “Harry, please, I-“ Harry’s lips brushed over his ear and Cisco had to suck in a breath, his own hands getting tighter around Harry’s hip and rear.

“We had a deal.” Harry whispered, voice grated, mouth nuzzling softly. “We said tomorrow night. And I don’t break promises. But you can hardly blame me for this.” He pressed his groin forward, right into Cisco. And the feel of him… oh f*ck, the feel. He was so firm and hard, and Cisco could feel the intensity of him even through both of their clothes. Harry’s mouth came back to Cisco’s, swallowing the second moan he'd drawn out of Cisco that morning.

This kiss was slower, deep and so full that Cisco wasn’t sure where he started and Harry ended. It steadied them both, brought their hands back to softness, until Cisco’s were rested against Harry’s chest, and Harry’s were curled warmly around Cisco’s upper arms. It ended with their foreheads plastered together, breathing warmth against each other’s lips.

Harry lifted one hand and slowly began smoothing Cisco’s hair away from his face in methodical strokes. He didn’t open his eyes, but he quietly eased his body away from Cisco without separating their foreheads.

“I want to state, for the record…” Cisco swallowed, watching his face, “If we weren’t at work right now, I’d let you break that promise.” Harry smiled, slow and easy.

“Don’t put ideas in my head, Ramon.” He finally opened his eyes, deep blues that washed over Cisco’s own like the ocean on the shore. He moved his fingers from Cisco’s hair to his cheek, smoothing gently, the pad of his thumb coming across his bottom lip in one easy sweep. Then he pulled his head back, looking down at him knowingly. “We agreed to go slow.” Cisco chuckled, shaking his head a little.

“Right. Slow.” He examined the mess he’d made out of Harry’s already untamable hair. “If anyone saw us right now, they’d know exactly what we… didn’t… do.” He reached up and tried to make sense of the soft, dark strands. Harry simply stood there, letting him.

“Let them know.” Harry shrugged a shoulder. “I don’t plan on ever hiding you.” Cisco dropped his hand, feeling a soft blush heat his own cheeks. The look of it made Harry’s eyes grow warmer somehow. So impossibly fond…

“There’s that look again.” He said, half hushed.

“What look is that?”

“This one,” He motioned idly at Harry’s eyes, “Like maybe you could…” His voice trailed off and he swallowed down the words he knew he shouldn’t say. But then Harry leaned down and brushed his lips warmly over Cisco’s, lingering just a little.

“I plan to.” Harry whispered, just before his phone went off. He huffed, lowering his head a moment, pressing his temple into Cisco’s shoulder as the ringtone filled the silence. Then he stepped back with a heavy sigh, fishing his phone out of his pocket and hitting the button, putting it up to his ear. “What?” He asked, half-annoyed. It made Cisco smirk. Caitlin had said Harry hated talking on the phone. Which was not Cisco’s experience, at all. Maybe Harry just hated talking on the phone with anyone else, which secretly warmed Cisco to his very core. “You’re early.” Harry’s eyes flicked to the clock on the wall above Cisco’s head. “Meet me at my vehicle.” Then he hung up without saying goodbye, slipping the phone back into his pocket.

“You have to go.” Cisco said softly, though could still feel himself smiling.

“I wish I didn’t have to. But yes.”

“Don’t worry, Harry. We’ll have plenty of time tomorrow night.” He pushed away from the wall, rising up enough to taste Harry’s mouth one more time. Then he pulled back, straightening out Harry’s cardigan, stepping to the side toward the double doors and willing himself to put space between them.

“We’ll have plenty of time, period.” Harry confirmed. And Cisco grinned, nodding and stepping back till his feet hit the threshold.

“I know you said not to wait up for you to call, but… I don’t think I have the willpower not to.” Cisco admitted, slipping his hands into his own pockets. “And I’d really like to know what the plans are for tomorrow.” Harry smirked.

“When I said I was going to be back late, I meant it, Ramon. You need rest.”

“I’ll nap in my lab.” He winked, and Harry just kept that smirk on his too handsome face. “I’ll… see you soon, Harry.” That made his smirk soften to a light smile, and Cisco turned, heading back down the hallway. The floor’s receptionist, a woman Cisco vaguely remembered was Rita or Rhonda or something like that, nearly startled when she stepped off the elevator.

“I… can I help you?” She asked, steps slowing as she shrugged her bag off her shoulder.

“Nope.” Cisco shook his head, pretty sure he was smiling like an idiot as he reached past her to press the down button on the elevator. It opened immediately.

“Miss Burrows,” Harry’s voice caught Cisco’s attention immediately, and hers. She straightened up instantly, quickly setting her bag down on her desk. Harry was now wearing a black suede jacket, his laptop bag in one hand, and a folder tucked up under his arm as he closed his office door, locking it with a key card. “Mr. Ramon has permission to access this floor and my office whenever he needs.” He said, and she nodded hastily.

“Oh, o-of course.” She agreed, looking a little wide eyed. Cisco side stepped into the elevator, unable to help himself from finding her reaction a little amusing, and finding Harry’s order a little… wonderful. “Do you have everything you need, Doctor Wells?”

“Yes. I won’t be back till Monday, I’ll be taking the weekend off after today. If anything pops up, you can reach me on my cell.” He dropped a folder into a box on her desk and moved toward the elevator, turning and standing right beside Cisco inside the metal box. Then he reached out and pressed the down button. Cisco watched as the woman stood there, looking more than a little confused as the doors closed.

“I, uh… think you surp-“ Cisco started, but Harry had turned and leaned down, hand holding the back of Cisco’s head as he kissed him slow and sweet.

“I meant what I said.” Harry reminded, then brushed his lips over his. “And if it’s not too soon to say, Ramon… I’m going to miss you today.” Cisco let out a silent breath, feeling his insides go lazy and calm.

“Not soon at all, considering I’ll miss you, too.”

“Good.” Harry’s lips moved against his one more time. It was clear he wasn’t going to waste the opportunity. The panel dinged, and Harry gently pulled back. Though not fast. Like he wasn’t in a hurry to beat the doors. His hand slipped slowly away from Cisco’s hair, like he really didn’t care if anyone saw them. And Cisco knew he'd say so much more to Harry if he could. But then the doors opened completely, and Harry stepped out into the parking garage. He gave Cisco one last damn beautiful smile before he walked away.

It took Cisco a second to realize he hadn’t moved, watching Harry head for a waiting SUV as the elevator doors closed. Cisco blinked a little, staring as his form disappeared out of sight when they shut. And he brought his hands up to his face, rubbing composure back into himself before he cleared his throat, grinning stupidly. He pressed the button for the fourth floor, where his lab was. And he stepped back, leaning his shoulders heavily against the wall behind him as something about the lingering feeling in his chest made him go quiet.

He thought he knew that feeling. Or maybe he’d known it in a different shape that was less deep, and far more tentative than what had settled there now. It lined the expanse of his lungs and thudded in tune with his heart. And he tried to remember what the name of it was. Or maybe he’d known it by a different name, in a different shape than this. Because this was… deeper than any ocean mankind had ever explored, and far braver than anything he’d ever known. It felt like love. The storybook kind. The once-in-a-lifetime sort. Not familial or momentary, not fleeting or afraid. No, it was more like hope and hunger, safety and comfort. It was brand new and had always been there, and it had made a home in Cisco’s soul.

How was that possible?

Harry and Cisco were only now figuring themselves out, right? They were still getting to know one another, still learning. In fact, they had so much learning to do that they were practically strangers. But Cisco knew what he was feeling, even if he’d never felt it quite like this before. He thought he’d felt it, once or twice. And yet, nothing seemed to compare.

No shape. No notion. No past feeling.

Harry was something altogether new and permanent, and Cisco knew it then like he knew his own reflection.

Cisco Ramon was already in love with Harrison Wells. And despite every reason he should be, he wasn’t even a little afraid of that truth.

He reached into his pocket as the elevator dinged and opened, absently pulling out the little round 8-ball. He turned it slowly in his hand as he turned and headed down the clean white and gray hall. His eyes wandered, his steps were easy. Everyone else on this floor had already started their day, and there he was lazily making his way past them. He stopped just in the threshold of his own lab, looking down at the ball in his hand.

“Does he feel the same?” he whispered, then slowly turned the ball to look at the window. The words ‘It is certain’ rose up through the blue ink. And Cisco huffed a breath, lips spreading wide as he wrapped his fingers completely around the 8-ball.

He repeated that phrase over and over again in his head as he put it back in his pocket and got to work.

It was going to be a long day…

Chapter 10: ‘See you soon, Harry.’

Chapter Text

Harry was exhausted.

More mentally than physically, though his back was not agreeing with him, either.

The grant approval went smoothly, for the most part. Every year for the last four years, he’d dispersed money through S.T.A.R. Labs’ education funds to cover the tuition of promising students in the city who attended the university in any scientific or medical field. It was considered paid in full for the students he and his team had chosen, as long as they didn’t drop out or transfer schools. But the legalities took some time. And more than a little paperwork. He also personally picked the students the money went to and met with each to inform them.

Crawford, the straight-off-the-press lawyer he’d been strapped with from S.T.A.R. Labs’ legal team, had made the process a little more complicated than it should have been. Nitpicking every detail, questioning Harry’s decisions, as though he had something to prove. Harry knew what it was like to claw his way up from the bottom, but he was hardly the man that Crawford should have attempted that with. Hence the reason Harry was now driving back to the labs on his own at nearly one fifteen in the morning. He’d had more than enough of Crawford by the end, and made the lawyer find his own transportation.

‘You really pissed him off.’ His daughter said humorously.

“He pissed me off first. And how do you find these things out so goddamn quickly? He’s lucky I didn’t fire him for being a glory hound.” Harry changed lanes, going around a rather slow taxi. The roads were basically empty, though the city still wasn’t asleep. City workers were doing their rounds, the bars were closing and groups of people were dispersing, and the street and shop lights added a fuzzy glow to the dark. “I don’t want to talk about it anymore. Dealt with enough high blood pressure today. How was the wedding?”

‘It was wonderful. You should’ve seen her, Dad. May was so beautiful, and the venue was amazing. I was going to head back after the reception, but a bunch of us stayed past closing time to talk.’ Jesse and May had been best friends since high school, which meant there really hadn’t been any other choice for Maid of Honor when May Landry was slated to marry her long-time boyfriend. ‘I took a ton of pictures.’

“I can’t wait to see them. Where are you now?”

‘At Leland Hotel in Star City. I’ll head back tomorrow afternoon, I think. I want to hit some of the shops at City Center in the morning. If I take the train, I should be back in plenty of time for the gala. Which you are totally going to, right?’ He heard the excited lilt in her tone. ‘With Cisco? I can’t wait to see you two together.’

“It hasn’t been decided yet where we’re going.”

‘What the heck are you waiting for?’

“Jesse, I’m not just going to throw him into the deep end without asking first. You know what those sh*t shows are like.” He sighed, gripping the steering wheel a little tighter. “I have to get this right. I need to.” He said much softer. The quiet hit for a beat and he instantly regretted his tone. Mostly because he knew his daughter could decipher it.

‘Dad, what’s wrong?’ She asked almost immediately. He inhaled slowly, flexing his fingers.

“Your mother called yesterday, after I saw you in my office.” He got out, then shifted slightly in his seat. Jesse sighed heavily.

‘I was hoping that she’d forget this year.’

“She wants to talk to you because… she’s moving back to Central City.”

‘What?’ She sounded stunned.

“It was the longest conversation we’ve had since she left.” He realized, voicing as much. “She said she’s been sober for ten years. Working at Yale for five. She got offered a position as the science head at CCU.” The quiet hit differently this time. He wished he was there to see her face, to hold her. Jesse didn’t hate her mother. And Harry tried very hard not to speak ill of her to Jesse. She knew what Tess had been through. Jesse knew why she’d left. But, like him, it was the fact she’d never come back that hadn’t sat well. That Jesse had grown up without her.

‘I… I don’t want to talk to her. I don’t want to see her.’

“I know.” He wasn’t going to tell her to do otherwise. “She asked me to meet with her. I told her… I’d call her on Sunday.”

‘Dad, no.’ She said very firmly. ‘You can’t do that.’

“Jesse.”

‘No… I don’t want her in my life. In your life.’ She sounded like she was pacing, ‘Don’t you get it? You’re finally letting yourself be happy. You can’t let her get in the way of that.’

“I’m not, Jesse, I swear to you. I’m not.”

‘But if you go see her-‘

“It was a long time ago, sweetheart. I’ve moved on from her. And I want whatever this thing is turning out to be with Ramon.” He tried to reassure her. Then he heard her chuckle. “What?”

‘Whatever this thing is? Do you hear yourself?’

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He said a little defensively.

‘Listen to the grown up in the room, okay? You can call it falling in love. Ya know, like an actual adult would.’ He could practically picture her grinning.

“Shut up.” He groused, and she laughed.

‘I’m happy for you, Dad. I want this for you, too.’

“I’m still going to meet with her. I think I need to.”

‘I don’t agree with it… but… I know you’re only doing what you think is best. You always do. Just don’t forget I know what’s best sometimes, too.’ Her voice lilted up, ‘Like… you should call Cisco. Right now.’ He chuckled and shook his head.

“Go to bed, Jesse. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

‘Damn right you will. I love you, Dad.’

“I love you, too.” After she hung up, the silence felt instantly too much. A little too heavy. Even unwanted. He knew it was late. Very late. But he’d promised to call Ramon, right? And Jesse had told him to. Because apparently his daughter was the de-facto adult now, according to her.

He couldn’t explain how much he looked forward to hearing Cisco’s voice, or seeing his smile. He'd been on a high all day because of that morning. Kissing him so thoroughly had been exciting and fulfilling. To know and to feel that Cisco wanted him just as much? That was more than a little distracting. Focusing on work had been a chore in itself. He would have been happier focusing on Cisco Ramon instead.

He knew, logically, that they were veritable strangers to each other. Employee files, school records, and his own attraction could only tell him so much. And rumor, stories, and magazine articles could only tell Ramon so much about him. But there was a foundation there he couldn’t deny. Something that had drawn him in with little effort. Something that had connected them a long time ago, but circ*mstance kept getting in the way. He wasn’t about to let that pattern continue.

Harry hesitated only another moment, thumb hovering over the Bluetooth button on the steering wheel. He should just let Cisco sleep. But he’d told him he’d call…

The button was pressed before he could stop himself.

“Call Ramon.” He said out loud. A beep was heard, and then a ringtone came through the speakers. It rang only once before a click was heard followed by…

‘Hi, Harry.’

Harry let out a breath he hadn’t even known he was holding in, fingers flexing on the wheel.

“Hi. I thought you might be sleeping.”

‘Hardly. How am I supposed to sleep when I’ve got you on the brain?’ Harry smirked at that, slowing the vehicle to a stop at the red light. ‘Are you still out and about?’

“I’m heading back to the labs now. And you should be in bed. Like a normal person. Don’t you have anything to do tomorrow?” He glanced at the clock. “Or more like today?” 1:19 a.m. Both late and early. S.T.A.R. Labs was closed every weekend, except for extended projects with immediate deadlines. None of which Ramon was a part of at the moment.

‘Honestly, not really. Saturdays are for sleeping in, grocery runs, quality cat time, hanging out with Barry and Caitlin if they’re free, and maybe binge watching one of my favorite shows.’ Cisco’s voice was light and calm, ‘Let me see if I can guess what you do on Saturdays.’ He heard the soft lilt of humor. ‘Work?’

“I feel like you’re insinuating that I’m predictable, and I don’t know if I like that very much.” Harry quipped, watching the light turn green. He urged the vehicle forward. “I do work on Saturdays. Paperwork doesn’t end with closing hours when you run a business like this. But I work from home, if that makes a difference.”

‘Do you never take a day off?’

“Not… never.” His brows tightened a little as he actively tried to remember when the last day off was. He’d even worked the last several Sundays.

‘Not never, huh. Okay, let me rephrase that. When was the last time you did?’ Harry was quiet at first to Cisco’s question, turning onto a cross street. Then he sighed.

“Truthfully, I haven’t had a good enough reason.” He admitted, dropping one hand to his lap and leaning his other elbow into the windowsill as he held the steering wheel. “The house has been big and empty for a long time. Jesse is living her own life. And being alone?” he shrugged, “Work is easier. Work takes up the space so I don’t have to focus on how lonely I actually am.”

He cleared his throat slightly. He wasn’t entirely sure why he admitted that. In fact, it seemed like he was willing to admit a lot of things to him. Ramon, however, was uncharacteristically quiet at Harry’s admission. He heard a soft shuffle on the line, and something that sounded like light tapping. Then Harry’s phone dinged and a ‘text message’ notification flashed on the dashboard.

‘That’s my address. And the code to the front door.’ Cisco said and if Harry wasn’t driving, he might’ve frozen in place. ‘And before you say anything, we still have our deal. But… we’re both awake. And we are both having the day off tomorrow. I bet you’re on your way back to the labs right now, to work more, not just to drop off stuff. Then you’d have the long drive back to your house in the hills. And then what? Sleeping alone just to get up alone and work to fill the time?’

“Ramon…”

‘Come fill the time here, Harry. My bed is big enough for both of us, no strings attached. And I wouldn’t mind sleeping in with you, or spending the time that comes after… with you.’

Harry slowly reached forward and pressed the text notification. Cisco’s address popped up on the screen and he swallowed. He shouldn’t be doing this. He shouldn’t even be entertaining it. Not because he didn’t want to. He wanted to spend every waking moment with Ramon, and the idea of spending the sleeping ones with him made the suppressed longing he often ignored fire up in his chest.

‘I’m here now, remember? And so are you.’ Cisco added softly, ‘I don’t want to be lonely anymore, either.’

Harry pressed the text, dragging the highlighted address to the GPS app. It instantly popped up. Six minutes away.

“I’ll be there in six minutes.” He managed. He swore he could almost hear the smile Cisco made.

‘See you soon, Harry.’

“See you soon.”

Chapter 11: “Why do you have so many pillows?”

Chapter Text

It took Harry a few minutes to find parking big enough for the SUV to fit in. And he had to walk the rest of the way up the street. It was a neighborhood of old brickstone and red concrete, apartments and condos and small shops. Not the worst area of the city, not the best, but somehow comfortable. He paused in the middle of two buildings, a long metal fence blocking access to the alley between.

He could see the fire escapes on each one, fairy lights covering one area. There were rows of colored rope crisscrossing from one roof to the next, equally colorful cloths hanging from them. There were picnic tables and two covered grills below in the alley itself, which was clean and maintained like a communal living area. Flowers were in planters against the building’s outer walls. Harry could smell the lingering scent of cinnamon. And though most of the apartment lights were off, Harry could almost imagine a scene with people milling about on the fire escape landings, jazz playing, laughing back and forth. And he smiled.

He looked down at his phone, walking up the steps to Ramon’s building. He had a backpack slung over his shoulder. His ‘go bag.’ It had a change of clothes and a travel toiletry kit for when he spent long nights at the labs. It typically stayed in the SUV. But if he was sleeping here…

He let out a deep breath as the idea rambled through his brain for the millionth time. And for a split second, he almost turned around. But he forced his hand up and pressed the four-digit code Ramon had given him into the door lock, hearing it click. He opened it and stepped inside.

The lobby was small. Metal mailboxes lined one wall. A set of stairs rose above him with cracked black tile. The building was clean but aged. And he glanced at his phone again. Apartment 9. He looked past the mailboxes and the elevator to the two doors beyond the stairs. Apartment 1 and 2. So he made his way up, choosing the stairs. The way the building was built seemed to only have three apartments per floor except for the ground floor. Which meant Ramon’s was on the fourth floor.

As soon as he got to the top of the stairs, he saw Ramon standing in his open doorway, leaning against the frame, hands resting lazily in his pockets. He was wearing a t-shirt that was faded gray and too big for him, with cracking white letters that read ‘E=MC2.’ He had a pair of plaid red and green pajama pants on. And his feet were bare. His hair was loose and lazy around his shoulders. He looked like home.

“Hi.” Ramon said softly, pushing gently away from the doorframe.

“Hi yourself.” Harry walked right up to him, looking down at him. Ramon’s eyes were glistening like they almost always did when he was watching him.

“You’re late.” He said, pulling his hands out of his pockets. “By three whole minutes.”

“This street doesn’t have much in the way of parking.” He lifted his chin a little. Cisco smirked. Then he reached a hand up, curling his fingers behind Harry’s neck as he brought his mouth up. So soft, warm, soothing. Harry’s eyes closed and he sighed against him, feeling any anxiety about all of this flee on the spot.

“Come on in, Harry.” Cisco stepped back with a knowing smile, grabbing the door. Harry stepped in past him, letting his eyes roam as Ramon closed it.

It was a studio apartment. Not very big, but Ramon utilized the space well. He had a tv mounted on one wall, an old but clean gray couch set up with a round dark blue rug beneath it. Behind the couch was a bookshelf that covered the length of it, filled with books and what looked like comics. There was a kitchenette with one long counter on another wall. Fridge, tiny stove, a single sink, a set of cabinets. A microwave cart was set up beside it. A door sat opposite, cracked slightly and leading to what Harry assumed was the bathroom judging by the tile on the floor.

There was a dresser between the only two windows in the apartment, long and made of cherry red wood. Storage bins were piled up neatly in two corners, almost to the ceiling, and each one labeled with something like ‘winter clothes,’ ‘t-shirts,’ or ‘collectibles.’ Posters of various media, including scientific charts and more than a few movie posters, covered free spaces in neat rows. And beside the bathroom door at the only other wall was a full-size bed, with mismatched covers and blankets in shades of red and brown, and a pile of pillows as though Ramon preferred to sleep in a nest. A cat was stretched out on the bed, fluffy, large, and very orange. It didn’t seem to care that a stranger was in its midst.

“That’s Molly. She’s a bed hog. We’ll have to fight her for space.” Cisco said calmly, and Harry turned to see him standing with his hands in his pockets again, completely comfortable in his space and his skin. “Do you have any pets?”

“Yes…” he paused, sliding his backpack down his arm, “Or more like Jesse… she has a parrot. She took the little monster with her when she went to college.”

“Little monster?” Ramon smirked.

“His name is Atom. He’s smarter than most people, and he’s a thief. He was always stealing my good pens, food off my plate, my watch…” he absently touched his own wrist, feeling the lump beneath his coat sleeve. “I… tolerated him.”

“I bet you did.” Cisco wandered over to him and reached out, grabbing Harry’s bag. He let him.

“Ramon… I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing right now.” He admitted tentatively, and he hated the quality of his voice right then. He was nervous, and he had no idea why. After everything they’d already done, and everything they’d already said, why should he be? Ramon seemed to read between the lines because he stepped somewhat behind Harry and put his bag down near the couch. Then he reached up behind him and tugged his jacket off.

“You’re supposed to be relaxing. Time off, remember?” He draped it over the back of the couch, then came right up to him without hesitation, hands sliding around his ribs to his back, tucking himself in close and comfortable and resting his head on Harry’s shoulder with a content sigh. Like he belonged there. Like he fit. Any tension left in Harry’s body completely melted away, and he wrapped Cisco in his arms, closing his eyes and resting his cheek against the top of Cisco’s head. Everything about this felt soft and right and Harry wasn’t sure why they hadn’t just hugged like this before. Harry didn’t count the seconds. He let them turn into a minute without saying a word. Then Ramon pulled back, looking up at him. “I missed you.”

“I missed you, too.” He lifted a hand, running his fingers through Ramon’s hair. He loved the feel of it. Like silk, warm and smooth, spreading so easily to his touch. “I keep thinking… I feel as though we’ve been at this forever. You and me. I know it’s only been four days. But-“

“I feel like I’ve known you my whole life.” Ramon finished for him. His expression was tender.

“I meant what I said before, Ramon. I don’t want to rush. I don’t want anything to happen we’re not ready for, or for you to feel like-“

“You make me feel brave. And safe.” Ramon said firmly, “I’m not doing anything I don’t want to do.” He assured. And Harry slowly smiled.

“You keep interrupting me.” He said lightly, and Ramon chuckled.

“Bad habit. My brain works faster than my patience.” He stepped back a little, then reached forward, grabbing onto Harry’s belt without making eye contact. Harry felt a buzz run through him at breakneck speed. “I’m assuming you didn’t bring pajamas. But you’re not sleeping with a belt and shoes on. That’s going to be uncomfortable.” He explained, unbuckling it and then pulling it out easily. Harry simply stood there, letting him, entirely too pliable and subdued already. Ramon then set the belt aside, on top of Harry’s bag, and motioned down at his feet.

Only then did Harry move, toeing off the black leather loafers he was wearing. Then Cisco grabbed onto his hands, stepping back and pulling. He came without needing much encouragement. He'd follow Ramon anywhere. Cisco led him straight to the bed, then let go of his hands to pull the covers back.

Harry stepped up behind him, smoothing his hands over his shoulders, gripping his muscles lightly. Ramon straightened, leaning into his touch, letting Harry press their bodies together. He moved his arm over Ramon’s shoulder, down across his chest, holding him in place as he breathed in the coconut scent of his shampoo.

“Thank you.” He whispered. Cisco shuddered a little, he could feel it. His hands came up and clung to Harry’s arm. “For this.”

“You’re going to make it really hard… to stick to our deal.” Ramon whispered back. And Harry smiled, lowering his lips to Cisco’s shoulder. He sighed against the material of his t-shirt, then pressed a kiss there, slipping back and away to let Cisco move. Ramon breathed deep, turning to look at him with a soft flush in his cheeks. He then grabbed a remote off his nightstand and pressed a button. The lights in the apartment shut off, except for the lamp beside the bed. “Come on, time to settle.” Harry nodded.

Ramon climbed into the bed first, and Molly meowed, rolling aside and then standing with a tight stretch. Harry peeled his cardigan off, leaving his black tshirt on, shaking out the sweater and tossing it to the end of the bed. Then he followed suit with Ramon. He was amazed at the fact that it felt normal, not uncomfortable or worrisome in the least.

“Why do you have so many pillows?” He asked, reaching behind his head and plucking a few out.

“Because you can never have enough comfort items, Harry.” Ramon grabbed them from him, tossing them to the end of the bed, which made Molly hop off completely. Harry was flat on his back, and Cisco pulled the mismatched covers up over both of them before turning on his side and leaning against an arm, scooting close, sliding his hand over Harry’s ribs. Harry peered up at him, studying the way his hair fell around him, the way his t-shirt pulled tight over his chest, the way his body seemed to ease against his.

“You’re beautiful.” He said softly, aware of the reverence in his own tone.

“Beautiful…” Cisco whispered, “You’ve said that before.” His dark chocolate hues roamed down Harry’s features, to where his own hand laid against Harry’s ribs. “You’re the only one who’s ever said that to me.” Harry put his hand over Ramon’s, drawing his gaze back up. “Ya know… I spent a long time thinking there was something wrong with me, after everything… the guys who cheated and lied and hit me… I thought maybe I wasn’t worth-”

“You are worth so much more than anyone deserves. Those other men, they didn’t see that. They wasted the gift you gave them. I won’t do that.” Harry interjected. And Cisco’s brows furrowed a little.

“Gift?”

“You’re the gift, Ramon. Everything you are. I’m the one who’s not worthy.” He reached up and slipped his hand over Cisco’s cheek, stroking his thumb beneath his eye. “Look at me in comparison. You are everything light and joy. You shouldn’t want anything to do with me. If I was a better man-“

“Don’t.” Cisco whispered firmly, then shook his head, closing his eyes a moment. He leaned down and connected their mouths without looking, tenderly treating Harry to a kiss that had him blinking heavily back at him when he pulled away. “You’re so much better than you think. I wouldn’t have let you in if you weren’t.” His eyes searched his longingly, “When I’m with you, I don’t feel empty or lonely or worthless. I just feel… whole.” He sighed and scooted down, nearly wrapping himself around Harry, face pressed into Harry’s neck and cheek. He clung to Harry’s ribs, his leg bent and draped across Harry’s thighs, like they’d cuddled this way a million times already. It was so goddamn comfortable, Harry enfolded him in his arms, closing his eyes. “We’re here now.”

“Yes, we are.” Harry agreed softly, smiling at the now familiar words. He felt his body settling, perfectly wrapped in Ramon’s warmth, feeling the steadiness of his breathing and focusing on the feel of his fingers moving in slow sweeps back and forth over his ribs. It was quiet then, the minutes ticking by as they both seemed to relax more and more into each other. Then Ramon spoke.

“Let’s ask each other questions. Anything we want. And we have to answer. We’ll take turns.”

“We’re not an 8-ball.” Harry stated a little flatly. Cisco snickered, turning his face a little more into him.

“Ya know what, that 8-ball is a permanent fixture in our lives now, Harry. You’re just gonna have to deal with it.”

“I absolutely will not.”

“You’re not going to have much of a choice. But for the sake of this conversation, we can keep the questions between you and me.” He sounded perpetually amused, and Harry smirked, blinking at the dimply lit ceiling. It wasn’t too high, and had piping across it. “I’ll go first. I read in your bio that you’re from Alaska. Why’d you come to Central City?” Harry lifted his brows a little at the question. No one was ever really so pointed about his life unless they were reporters, which he typically loathed with a passion. But this was Ramon, and he had no problem revealing everything to him he possibly could.

“I was born in Alaska, but left when I was around twelve.” He began, “My mother was a patient, smart, relentlessly strong woman who encouraged me from the day I was born to be everything I wanted to be. My father was a hard man with old ideals who I don’t think knew what to do with a child who had a 228 IQ. His idea of raising me to be a man was to teach me about the practices of getting ahead without regard to anyone else. My mother wanted more for me than that. She didn’t want me to follow in his footsteps. He’s… an unforgiving monster of a man who ran Vector Incorporated with an iron fist.”

“Wait, your father is the oil baron of Vector?” Cisco asked, and Harry nodded lightly.

“Under his guidance, he destroyed entire towns, railroaded businesses for profit, and swallowed livelihoods whole at every turn. He was trying to raise me to take over for him. And my mother saw that. She sent me to Boston to live with my Uncle William, against my father’s will of course. It was the best thing that could have happened. And the worst.” He closed his eyes, taking a deep breath and letting it out. Ramon’s fingers slowed against his chest. “She died a year later from terminal cancer. I’d never even known she was sick. I think the cancer was what pushed her into sending me away, so that I wouldn’t be left with him. My father never contacted me again. My last conversation with my mother was her telling me to keep pushing forward, to take my dreams and make them a reality. I promised her I would. And… I always keep my promises.”

“I graduated college when I was fifteen and clawed my way up in the scientific community from there. My uncle had a stroke when I was twenty-two and passed away two days after I founded Crossover, my first lab. I met Tess soon after. And by the time we’d married, I had already built S.T.A.R. labs in the city where both my uncle and my mother were born. Right here.” He smiled a little.

“I knew it needed to be right at the center of the city. To be a beacon of hope like they’d always been for me. I wanted it to be a place of breakthroughs and human advancement. A place where differences get left at the doors and peace is paramount. There was… a lot of opposition to my plans at first. Many people thought I was too idealistic, too ‘shoot for the moon’ compared to other scientists. But what’s science without idealism?” He smoothed his hand up and down Cisco’s back. “I pissed off a lot of people in the beginning. I didn’t get everything right. I made mistakes. I tried to learn from them. But what the labs became? That I got right. For them, and for everyone else. And I think… I’d really like to get this right, too.” He squeezed Ramon’s arm gently.

“Believe me, you haven’t gotten a single thing wrong with me.” Cisco replied.

“Yet.” Harry said, and something about that one word sounded almost… sad. Even to him.

“Yet?”

“I don’t have a great track record, Ramon. It’s difficult for most people to look past all my… idiosyncrasies. Tess was different, but I failed her. I wasn’t able to help her like I should have. I tried looking again once, several years after she left. But at that point, I think some part of me was too broken to put the right sort of effort into it that a potential partner deserved. And I was convinced no one would want to live with me as I am. I never tried again. Until this. Until now. You’re different, Ramon. It’s why I want so hard to get this right. And why I’m… maybe afraid. You’ve heard all the stories about me. Which makes me wonder what you could possibly see in me.” Cisco lifted his head, hair falling over his shoulder, casting soft shadows against his face. His dark eyes locked onto Harry’s blues.

“You’re more self-deprecating than I am.” He nodded absently. “I have heard the stories. All of them. Including the ones about you being a devoted father, an intuitive mentor, a fierce friend, and a hard worker, among all the other stuff you think is so bad.” He studied Harry’s face as he spoke. “Besides, I’d rather make my own opinions, if that’s okay with you. And so far, I’m happy with what I’ve seen and experienced for myself.” The word ‘happy’ made Harry pause, a subtle smile spreading. And Cisco started to ramble a little, that ever-present anxiety demanding a little time in the spotlight.

“I’m not all roses and sunshine, either, ya know. I can be overenthusiastic and really picky. And I’ve been told more than once that I need to be more mature.” His voice softened as he said it, looking down at Harry’s throat in thought. “I overthink things, and I avoid relationships because I’m scared of my own shadow. And work is easier to put my energy into than-“

“Ramon…” Harry’s tone was slightly firm as it cut him off, making him freeze for a split second before he looked back at him. Harry sighed warmly. “Overenthusiastic means you’re passionate about what you enjoy. Which not many people can claim to be about anything. Picky simply means you know what you want and what you like, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s admirable, to know yourself that well. Maturity is objective. You have three degrees, a full-time and worthy profession, a place of your own, and long-lasting relationships. And… even if you do overthink, you use it as a strength, not a weakness. If you really avoided relationships, we wouldn’t be here right now. So… you shouldn’t believe whoever told you otherwise. They don’t really see you. And they didn’t want you to be happy.”

“But you do.” Ramon whispered, unable to tear his eyes away. Harry swallowed a little, cleared his throat and looked down at Cisco’s form.

“Whoever hurt you,” Harry half-whispered, hand coming up to smooth over his cheek, curling hair behind his ear. “I’m not them. I can’t promise that I won’t drive you crazy, or make you want to scream from time to time. I can’t promise that I won’t be thoughtless or absent or lost in my work. I’m hard, and… jaded in some ways. I know that. I won’t sugarcoat it. But… you’re the only person in a very long time I feel as though I have even the smallest chance of making happy. If you’ll let me try. I hope you will, I…” He let out a breath, “I really hope you will.”

Harry knew, in that moment, without a doubt, that he was completely and utterly head over heels for Ramon. He’d never fallen so hard or so fast or so thoroughly for anyone. Not even for Tess. And even though they were veritable strangers in most respects, there was something about that man settled up against him that made Harry feel like he was looking into his own future. And Harry couldn’t think beyond that realization, like it had quaked all the walls he’d tried to put up, bringing them down with just the feel of Cisco’s warmth.

“I’m terrified.” Cisco whispered, but he closed his eyes and turned his face into Harry’s hand, pressing a kiss to his palm. “Absolutely, utterly terrified, actually.” He looked back at him. “Because I already think you’re it, Harry. You’re the forever I’ve been dreaming about. And I am so afraid that I’m going to screw it up.” Harry felt his heart simply soar. Half from relief, half from a quiet need to quell Cisco’s fear.

“I’m afraid I’ll screw it up, too. In fact, I fully believe I might in some way.” Harry admitted, shifting his position a little, turning into him, pulling him more flush on top of himself. Cisco settled nearly in between his legs, and his eyes got softly wide. He looked a little dumbstruck from this position, staring down at him, soft and hopeful and beautiful, and every damn thing Harry could think to dream of. “I told you before that it’s been a long time for me. But you’ve thrown my existence for a loop and I’m not sure I want to go back to what it was like before Tuesday. That being said, if this is too much, too fast-“ Cisco surged down and kissed him.

The effect was instant. Like they’d both been starving for something that they couldn’t voice. Like they’d been reaching for something other than stars. And they were each other’s only true north, the only right destination. Harry sighed into the kiss, releasing the fear that Cisco might have said or done literally the opposite. He could feel both of their bodies reacting to the physicality of this connection, to the weight of Ramon on top of him, to the feeling of blankets pooled around them and nothing stopping them but the clothes they wore.

“Our deal.” Harry mumbled against his mouth. And Cisco shifted his position more.

“It’s Saturday.” He kissed him again. And Harry could feel his hardness pressing against his own.

“It’s not… Saturday night.” He reminded, unsure why the hell he was fighting this. He should have just let it happen. That would be the smart thing to do, according to how tightly wound his groin was already feeling.

“Then… then we keep our deal.” Cisco lifted his head, looking down at Harry’s mouth, letting out a deep sigh as he shifted his hips. Instantly, Harry’s head pressed back into the pillow, throat exposed as he squeezed his eyes shut at the feel. The friction.

“Ramon,” he panted out, “If you do that again, I won’t be able to.”

“We’ll keep our deal. We’ll keep our clothes on. It’ll be like the phone sex, but this time… we get to see each other.” His hips moved again, only this time, he didn’t stop. He rocked himself back and forth, and he moaned lightly. Hearing that sound for the first time without the muffling of a phone line was damn near intoxicating. He gripped both of Cisco’s hips, fingers curling toward Ramon’s ass instantly.

“f*ck, you sound amazing.” He gruffly spoke, and Cisco’s head lolled forward, thumping into Harry’s shoulder. Harry spread his legs open, letting him settle further between them. And a hot breath left Cisco’s mouth, billowing over Harry’s shirt and neck. Harry smoothed his hands completely over Ramon’s rear, gripping firmly, pushing Cisco into himself. Their dicks practically dragged together, catching in their pants, pulling out a long, labored whine from Ramon.

“Oh, god, Harry, oh please…” he panted. And Harry knew instantly he needed more of that, to hear him plead, to hear him moan. He moved quickly, turning Cisco over and onto his back in one swift movement. His eyes flew open wide, hands grabbing on, gripping for dear life as their positions switched. And Harry ground himself down against Ramon, groin to groin. Cisco’s thighs spread wide, and he moaned just like Harry had wanted.

“You’re sure about this…” Harry pressed his hands into the mattress, hovering over him, head hung and eyes closed. “All you have to say is stop, and we’ll stop.” His dick was throbbing, and Ramon felt like a treasure just out of his reach. That damn clothing, he wanted it gone. But he could wait for that. Ramon was right, they could do this instead. Only if Ramon was certain. Harry would never impose his will on him, never make him do anything he didn’t want. And to answer him, Cisco wrapped his legs around him, pressing them closer. They both moaned at the movement.

“It was my idea. I-I should be… saying that to you…” Cisco loosened his legs just enough to slip a hand between them before Harry could respond, and suddenly he was being palmed and gripped. “God, you’re so big. So goddamn hard.” Ramon was practically humming. And Harry’s head went up, eyes snapping open. “Better than I imagined.”

“f*ck,” Harry swore, then turned onto his side. Cisco’s legs stayed wrapped around him, his hand stayed gripped on Harry’s covered dick. And Harry reached down, doing the same to him. He was delightfully firm, practically peeking through the edge of his pajama pants.

Oh, how easy it would be to expose him, to touch his soft and swollen head. But this was the new deal, and Harry could follow the rules. Ramon captured his mouth, and they caressed each other, finding an equal rhythm, fingers and palms working to bring each other higher through the forcefield of material.

“I don’t think I can… I’m not gonna last…” Cisco admitted, face practically contorted in an effort to stave it off.

“Don’t fight it.” Harry urged, “Come for me, Ramon. Let me see you come. Let me hear you.” Ramon’s eyes opened and they were practically as dark as the night sky. He was gripping Harry’s shoulder with his free hand, his other picking up speed on Harry’s dick.

“Touch me. Please, I want to feel your hand… on my skin.” He begged, and Harry swallowed a groan, turning it into something like a growl.

“Are you sure?”

“Do it, Harry, please do it.” He whined. And Harry didn’t hesitate again, he slipped his hand inside Ramon’s pajama pants. f*ck, he felt so warm. So smooth and hard and perfect. Like he was made to fit in Harry’s grip. He slid his thumb over the top of him, slick with precum, then wrapped him entirely and he picked up a rhythm that was firm and steady. Instantly, Ramon moaned out. He wasn’t quiet about it. He wasn’t subtle. He made it seem like being touched by Harry so intimately was better than anything he’d ever experienced. And Harry felt instantly possessive and greedy with the sight and sound of him. He would never want to share this with anyone else.

“Listen to you. Singing for me…” he spoke roughly, and Cisco’s eyes fluttered open, expression raw with pleasure and need.

“I-I need…” He tried to speak, and his hands became useless. It was like Cisco couldn’t think enough to keep his own palm going against Harry, at the edge and ready to fall off. Harry was certainly not complaining.

“Tell me what you need, Ramon.”

“I need you to kiss me.” He managed, and Harry gave him exactly what he wanted. He kissed him thoroughly, matching the pace of Ramon’s need. And oh, the glorious result. Cisco came pulsing a few breaths later into Harry’s hand, moaning raggedly into that kiss, hands gripping Harry’s body hard as he tore his mouth away, practically coming apart.

Harry stroked him, easing the pace, slowing, till he was sure Cisco had nothing left to give. Then he gently pulled his hand out of his pants, smiling at how soft-boned Ramon had become. Cisco’s hands eased their tension, and his eyes lazily opened as his lungs let out bursts of air, staring at him as though he had found the answers to the universe there in that bed with him.

“Harrison Wells...” He whispered, sighing out, voice labored. Saying his full name like that damn near made his dick jump in his pants and he clenched his own jaw. He was very sure that Cisco saw the fire lit in his eyes because then Ramon smiled, slow and sweet. “Your turn.” Cisco gently moved into him, lips warmly encapsulating his.

Harry tasted him back and lost himself in the warm and slick dancing of their tongues, fully aware that there was no going back for him. Tonight was turning out to be the first in what would hopefully become a long line of the best moments of his damned life. Cisco pressed Harry onto his back again, and he could feel his fingers instantly working on his button, popping it open. He pulled down his zipper, which caught halfway. He didn’t let that deter him, forcing it down. Then his hand dove in. His fingers were so steady despite the very real way he’d just come apart for Harry.

He smoothed his digits down Harry’s length, examining him, pressing his palm into him with such confidence that Harry might have been convinced that Cisco already knew what Harry felt like in his hand. He wrapped his fingers around him. And then he pumped and stroked him with ease.

Harry had to pull his mouth away, hands tightening around Ramon’s ribs, his lungs forcing air in and out almost desperately. Because he’d already been at his own edge having watched and heard Ramon come for him. And the way Ramon was now watching him was almost too intense, like he wanted to memorize every shift of color in Harry’s eyes.

“That’s it…” Cisco whispered, and Harry moaned instantly, like Ramon had hit a button with his voice alone. Cisco pressed his forehead to Harry’s, and he was trying so hard not to grip Ramon even harder. He was panting against Cisco’s mouth, and he was arching into Ramon’s hand. “I’ve got you, come on…” He encouraged, and his hand only got faster. f*ck, it was so good. Harry’s eyes closed heavily. He felt that painful need in his groin finally snap and he groaned out loudly, releasing into Cisco’s grip, feeling himself pulse with each well directed pump.

Slowly, deliberately, Ramon’s hand eased up. Harry began to relax, loosening his hands as he focused on the thrumming in his chest, his heart trying to go back to a normal rhythm. He let his limbs go limp in the bed, and he sighed out heavily.

“You are… amazing…” Cisco whispered, sounding so affectionate. He kissed him soft and slow, their lips tangling lazily as he settled into Harry’s body, both of them coming completely down, wrapped up in each other and the aftermath of what they’d just done. Once the sensations began to completely wear off, Ramon lifted his head, bringing his clean hand up to smooth through Harry’s hair. “We’re really good at making deals.” He quipped, cracking a smile.

“I think we’re going to be very good at a lot of things.” Harry remarked, smiling back, blinking heavily. He felt physically tired. In a very complete and good way. And Ramon gave him one last press of lips before he pushed up, scooting a little, turning to get off the bed. Harry pushed himself up on his elbows, looking down the length of himself. For still being clothed, he felt pretty used up. And it was fantastic. He reached forward and closed his pants, though only zipped it.

“We need to clean up.” Cisco said, turning to look at him as he stood. He reached out a hand and Harry took it, letting him help hoist him up. “You can use the bathroom to change. I can clean up out here. Then we sleep.” He rose up and kissed him. “I really want you to hold me.” Harry hummed at the idea, and Ramon stepped back, letting him move past him. Harry grabbed his backpack and went into the bathroom. And none of that felt awkward in the least.

It was small but clean, and smelled like vanilla. It only had a shower stall, a toilet, and a small sink with a round mirror that was almost too low for Harry’s height. There was a towel rack on the back of the door with two neatly folded purple towels. And there were shelves above the toilet that had different hair and skin products, extra toilet paper, and some hand towels that were various colors.

He grabbed one of those off the top, a bright green one, and went to work cleaning his hands, his groin, the bit of his stomach that had gotten slick. Ramon was right in thinking he hadn’t brought pajamas. So he changed into the dark blue jeans and black S.T.A.R. Labs t-shirt he had in his bag. He rolled his dirty clothes up, shoving them into the very bottom of his pack. And then he sighed at his reflection.

He looked… happy. And spent.

It wasn’t an expression he was used to seeing on himself.

It was entirely Ramon’s fault.

And he was really f*cking grateful.

He came out to find Ramon sitting on the edge of the bed with his cat in his lap. He was wearing a pair of dark gray sweatpants and a brown t-shirt that had a diagram on it of the ‘correct way’ to set a roll of toilet paper. He dropped the bag against the wall and smirked.

“Where do you find all your t-shirts?” He asked, wandering over and setting his cell phone down on the nightstand. Ramon grinned, then shrugged, plucking the cat off his lap and depositing her fluffy body on the floor. She didn’t seem perturbed in the least.

“Street fairs. Or Etsy.” He nodded. “There’s a shop on there that makes all kinds of science tees. It’s the one thing I splurge on. You don’t wanna know how many I actually have.” Harry stepped up to him, hovering over him. Cisco craned his head up to look at him. Harry shook his own head a little at the sight of him before he cupped his face and bent down, kissing him. He felt soft, hands smoothing along Harry’s hips, Ramon’s mouth working languidly along with his. “You really don’t mind them?” He asked when they pulled apart. Cisco scooted back, moving to the other side of the bed to let Harry lay down.

“They’re amusing. Why wouldn’t I like them?” He turned onto his side, sighing as he relaxed, watching as Cisco reached over and shut the light off. Dark washed over them both, the softest glow coming through the sheer curtains on the windows. Then Cisco flopped down, tugging the blankets up over them both again as he got close, practically face to face.

“Because you don’t wear anything beyond… blacks and grays and earth tones.” Cisco plucked at Harry’s own t-shirt. “And normally nothing with logos. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever seen you wear a graphic tee.”

“It’s a backup shirt for a reason.” Harry commented. “Just because I don’t like to wear colorful shirts doesn’t mean I don’t like seeing them on you. Honestly, I’ve gotten so used to seeing you wear them, I’m not sure I can picture you otherwise.” He could see Cisco smiling, the shadows bringing focus to his features and making his eyes sparkle even more.

“Well, then you’re going to get a hell of a shock when you see me in a suit.”

“Oh, I’m looking forward to that.”

“So am I. Which reminds me, what are your plans for the date? Don’t think I haven’t noticed how tight lipped you’ve been.”

“If I’m being honest, Ramon, I was tossing around two ideas.”

“Tell me both.” Cisco said, his hand coming up to Harry’s ribs and resting there.

“I have a standing reservation at Bertelli’s. I thought you might like it. I don’t tend to like fancy restaurants, but the steak is good and they have decent cheesecake.” Cisco chuckled lightly.

“Dude, Bertelli’s is impossible to get into. How the heck do you have a standing reservation?”

“The owner’s daughter is a colleague. She works in the UK now, but the reservation was a gift.”

“So… I’m not going to lie… Bertelli’s is a really good option. I’ve never been. And I’m a sucker for cheesecake.” Harry could almost see Cisco smiling as he spoke. “What about the second idea?”

“That’s a little more… complicated.” Harry lifted his hand to touch Cisco’s hair again. He was beginning to think he was becoming addicted to the feel of it. “There’s a gala that the board tries to rope me into going to every year that benefits the Young Scientists Association. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. All S.T.A.R. Labs employees are invited. I typically stop in, make a five-minute appearance, mumble out some speech and then leave. Jesse is always upset because I dress casually for it. And the board is always upset because I don’t stay for the whole thing because, as they say, it’s grown into an event that rivals the Oscars.” He smiled wryly. “As if that would convince me to stay. I understand the necessity of the benefit, but I’ve never liked the attention.” He sighed a little, “With photographers flashing their cameras and reporters demanding a sound bite.”

“Well, you’re kind of a celebrity in these here parts.” Ramon used a distinctly bad southern accent and smirked.

“Against my will.” Harry said flatly. “I never wanted that. I actively fought it for a long time. I lost.” He sighed, dropping his hand between them. “In truth, I was going to skip this year entirely. Until I thought maybe you’d like to join me.”

“You want me to be your plus one?” Cisco asked.

“Not if you don’t want to. Believe me, I’m happy just to be in your presence, Ramon. And I understand what it is I’d be asking with this. It would put you in the spotlight right alongside me. Which is something we haven’t discussed nearly enough. Something we should.”

Ramon was quiet for a moment, then his hand slid warmly down toward Harry’s hip.

“You said you didn’t want to hide me. That you wanted to be seen with me.”

“Yes.”

“You meant that, didn’t you.” Ramon spoke softly. “I mean, I know you did. It’s just maybe a little fantastic to wrap my head around. And maybe… some part of me thinks I should save you the embarrassment.”

“Ramon.” Harry started, but Cisco pressed forward, their heads touching.

“It’s okay, Harry… those are just the old scars peeking through. I realized that this morning, in the elevator with you. What I’m trying to say is I don’t know how good I’d be at all that public stuff. But I don’t want to hide us, either. I just might need a minute, ya know? To get used to the idea that someone like you wants that with me.”

“Someone like me…” Harry whispered, brows furrowing a little.

“Someone good.” He sighed a little. “New deal. Let me sleep on it. And tomorrow, after we’ve had coffee and breakfast and I’ve forced you to actually enjoy a day off, I’ll decide then whether we’re in for a fancy dinner or fancy party. Can we do that?” Ramon asked, almost pleadingly. Harry smiled and kissed him softly.

“Of course. You need to know, Ramon, I’ll never demand anything of you. I’ll never make you do anything you’re not comfortable with.”

“Like I said, you’re someone good.” Cisco nodded, but then turned his head with a quick yawn. “Wow, sorry, that kinda came out of nowhere.”

“Tired?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, aren’t you?”

“Turn over.” Harry smiled lightly. Then Cisco nearly grinned and turned almost excitedly over to his other side. He scooted back, till Harry’s chest was to his back and Harry had no choice but to wrap his arm around him, tucking his other up beneath the pillows, Cisco effectively playing ‘little spoon.’ They both sighed heavily at the same time, and Harry closed his eyes, resting his forehead to the back of Ramon’s head. This was honestly the most tired he’d been in a very long time. Cisco hugged his arm close. “Goodnight, Harry.” He whispered. Harry smiled there in the dark, feeling himself grow heavy, tiredness settling into his bones and comfort settling into his… everything.

“Goodnight, Ramon.” He whispered back. And for a moment, he wished he could say so much more. But he had a feeling they were going to have plenty of time for that. He focused on the way Cisco felt in his arms, so solid and real in his hold. He wanted to memorize how perfect he felt, how right this all was. And he fell asleep to the sound of Cisco’s quiet breathing, knowing somehow he was exactly where he was supposed to be, a satellite in Cisco Ramon’s atmosphere…

Chapter 12: “Lead the way, Ramon.”

Chapter Text

Cisco felt warm. Comfortable. Like his limbs were actually jello and his eyelids were too heavy to open. And at first, it didn’t entirely register as to why. Until he felt Harry breathe in and out heavily. Harry was flat on his back, Cisco’s head cradled on his chest. He had his arm and leg practically splayed over Harry’s body. And Harry’s arm was curled around him, hand resting on Cisco’s hip.

Slowly, he lifted his head to look at him. Harry was sound asleep. He didn’t even budge. And Cisco couldn’t stop himself from staring at him. His face was completely relaxed, his laugh lines eased and his lips parted very slightly. Cisco wasn’t sure he’d ever seen him look so… peaceful. He hoped that maybe he’d done that to Harry. And he didn’t dare disturb him.

It took some doing, but he managed to extricate himself from Harry’s hold, though he froze when Harry moved. The taller man rolled onto his stomach, both arms tucked up under and around his pillow as he expelled the air out of his lungs. His shoulders pulled against the material of his t-shirt, then he relaxed completely, still not waking. And Cisco let out a soft ‘phew’ sound before he glanced at the magnetic digital clock across the room on his fridge. It was almost ten thirty. They really had slept in. And he smiled, knowing that was probably pretty damn unusual for his workaholic boyfriend.

He paused at his own thought.

Boyfriend? Is that what Harry was? Was it too soon for a title to be put on things?

He carefully slipped off the bed, instantly feeling the loss of the warmth he’d woken up to, but stepping back to really look Harry over. Seeing him lying there in his bed was practically perfect. And he took a mental picture, to keep for himself. Afterward, he went into the bathroom, used the toilet, brushed his teeth, and attempted to brush his hair a bit. Then he came back out and quietly grabbed a pair of socks out of his dresser. After putting them on, he started up a pot of coffee as quietly as he could. Not once did Harry move.

He must have been really tired.

It made him think about what Harry had said when he’d called. That he’d always just work, even when he didn’t have to, because it was easier than feeling his loneliness. How many nights did he go without sleeping because he couldn’t let himself feel how hard it was to be alone? How many nights had he pushed himself to exhaustion just so he wouldn’t have to give in to it?

Cisco leaned his rear against the counter, crossing his arms lazily over his chest, staring forward at Harry’s sleeping form.

Every time he’d ever seen him, whether it was in an interview, a news broadcast, or at one of his seminars, Harry had always seemed so put together and focused. In control. Powerful. Like nothing fazed him. Like he was invincible. And yeah, he was definitely in control. Definitely powerful. But Cisco was learning he was as human as everyone else. And that truth was only making Cisco fall even harder for Harry. If that was even possible. He had already plummeted pretty damn far down Mt. Fall-In-Love.

The sound of Harry’s cell phone suddenly ringing made him jump a little. And Harry instantly tensed in the bed, every muscle going rigid as he nearly strangled the pillow. Then he pushed up onto his forearms, back curving stiffly, looking around, blinking and looking slightly bewildered, like he wasn’t sure where he was at first. He turned onto his side with a slight grimace, grabbing his phone and rubbing a hand over his face as he saw whose name was on the screen. He cleared his throat, then hit a button and held it to his ear.

“Jesse.” He said his daughter’s name, his voice sounding gruff from sleep and eyes roaming over his surroundings. “No, I’m-“ He paused when his eyes landed on Cisco. “I’m not home.” Cisco watched as Harry’s expression became fond in a heartbeat, eyes far brighter and awake as the seconds ticked by. “What?” He blinked, furrowing his brows a little and pushing himself up on one elbow. “I did not sleep at the labs. I promised you I wouldn’t anymore.” He sighed at whatever she said and he sat all the way up, pulling the covers off and sitting, feet set on the floor. Had Harry been sleeping at the labs? That was… awful. Harry spoke again.

“Yes, you woke me up. And no, I don’t know what time it is.” He pulled the phone back to glance at the display. Then his brows lifted a little, like he was surprised to see the time. He put the phone back to his ear. “Why does that matter?” He looked back over at Cisco and watched him quietly. Then he smirked. “I’m fine, really.” He stood then, free hand hanging loose at his side. “Jesse, sweetheart, you don’t need to check up on me. Enjoy the ride back from Star City… yes, tonight… yes. Just be safe.” He nodded absently. “I love you, too.” Then he hung up and set the phone back onto the nightstand with a plop before stretching his hands behind him, his t-shirt pulling tight around his frame. Cisco couldn’t stop himself from dragging his eyes over Harry’s form. He watched as Harry relaxed.

“Good morning.” Cisco smiled softly. And Harry smiled back.

“Yes, it is.” He said quietly, then turned for the bathroom, grabbing his backpack without another word, closing the door behind him. For some reason, that reaction made him chuckle. It was so… Harry. The coffee machine beeped behind him, signaling it was done brewing. And he turned, reaching into the cabinet and pulling down two mugs.

One was a Star Wars mug, the other was a white mug with black lettering that said ‘Don’t Talk To Me Until This Is Empty.’ He poured coffee into both, then pulled a bottle of French vanilla creamer out of the fridge, dumping a fair amount into the white cup. After that, he scooped some sugar from a Tupperware dish and added it, watching as the creamer swirled at the contact. The moment he started stirring was the moment he felt hands on his hips. And he almost jumped right out of his skin, his own hands coming up and tensing.

“Holyhannah!” He blurted, sucking in a breath at the feel of Harry stepping into him, letting it out heavily as the familiar feel of Harry’s form calmed him almost instantly, but his heart took a second to ease back from rapid. He heard Harry chuckle behind him before he lowered his face to Cisco’s shoulder. Cisco laughed softly despite himself, going back to stirring. “Don’t sneak up on me like that.” He lifted his free hand, carding his fingers through Harry’s hair with a sigh. “I didn’t even hear you come out.”

“You have terrible situational awareness, then.” When he spoke, Cisco could smell mint toothpaste. And he turned a little in Harry’s hold, dropping his hand and letting go of his spoon as he set his rear back against the counter. Harry planted his hands to the countertop to each side of Cisco, boxing him in. But for some reason… Cisco didn’t feel trapped. He felt safe. “Coffee smells good.” Harry said softly, eyes roaming over Cisco’s features. “Thank you for making it. And… thank you for letting me sleep in.”

“Seemed like you needed it. To be fair, I haven’t been awake long. I needed it, too.”

“It was easy, sleeping beside you.” He inched closer. “Holding you. I think I want to repeat that… often.” He leaned the rest of the way and kissed him. Cisco melted right on the spot. Everything felt somehow supremely domestic. And the idea of repeating all this, over and over again, every night and day for the rest of his life was instantly appealing. When Harry pulled back, his eyes were practically shimmering pools of endless blue, filled with very clear affection.

“I think I want to let you.” He smirked a little, but then his expression grew thoughtful when he remembered Harry’s conversation on the phone with Jesse. He reached out and smoothed his hand down Harry’s chest, curiosity getting the better of him. “Harry, have you really been sleeping at the labs?” He asked lightly. Harry let out a breath, straightening a little, soft confusion crossing his features.

“Yes. Though not recently. Jesse made me promise not to. Why?”

“Why would you do it in the first place?” Cisco countered lightly. And Harry furrowed his brows a little.

“Because it was easier than going to an empty house every night.” He pushed away from the counter, taking a small step back like something dawned on him, a tightness crossing over his features. “This honesty thing… it’s going to bite me in the ass, isn’t it.” He wasn’t asking.

“No,” Cisco shook his head immediately. “Harry, I didn’t mean to-“ He paused, then reached forward, hooking a finger into the belt loop of Harry’s jeans so he wouldn’t get further away. “I don’t think any less of you for it, if that’s what you’re worried about.” Harry didn’t say anything, jaw tightening a little. “Wait… is that what you think? That because you’re as human as the rest of us, I wouldn’t see you the same?” Harry scoffed, then crossed his arms.

“No.”

“Then what?”

“I know how I am. Hard emotions and personal problems…” He shrugged, “I don’t handle them like everyone else. Or very well, for that matter. And I can surmise what the perception would be. Besides, you’ve been through enough in your own life. And maybe… I keep asking myself why you would want that.” Cisco’s brows went up.

“Why would I want that?” He pulled then, quick and hard enough to make Harry nearly flatten right into him, his hands darting out fast and flattening back to the counter as Cisco brought them face to face. “Listen really carefully, Harry.” He ordered, and for a change he couldn’t read Harry’s expression. “I’m not in love with you because you’re perfect. All the things everyone else sees as flaws only make you more real. And I have been looking for real, for you, for a very long time.” Suddenly Harry’s eyes went wide, his lips parted, surprise painted all over his features, and Cisco wasn’t sure why. The wheels were turning in Harry’s eyes lightning fast, and Cisco felt like he’d missed something incredibly important. “What?”

“What did you just say?” Harry half-whispered.

“I said all the things everyone else-“

“No, not that.” Harry was impossibly close, eyes darting continuously over his own. “Before that.”

“I said… oh.” His own eyes widened at the realization, the words ‘in love with you’ were stuck in his gray matter, taking over everything else. His whole body felt stunned with intense and incredible anxiety that set in record time. “Harry, I-”

“You are?” Harry asked, or more like demanded… as though he needed to know, as though his entire existence depended on what happened next. sh*t.

“I didn’t mean to say it out loud.” He whispered. And Harry’s face fell before his features schooled really f*cking fast. And panic set into Cisco’s chest with the anxiety. “No, not because I don’t! That’s not what I meant! It’s because I do! I… am.” And Harry blinked, “In love with you, I mean.” sh*t, how did this happen?! “It’s too soon, isn’t it.” Cisco blurted, “Right? It is. I shouldn’t have-“

But Harry cut him off as he reached around him and pulled him into a tight hug, holding him close, burying his face into Cisco’s hair and neck. Cisco gasped, confused and a little startled, but he wrapped his own arms around him, closing his eyes. Silence settled around them, the two of them just standing there and holding on for dear life.

Then, slowly, Harry’s arms loosened, he straightened up and he lifted both hands to cradle his face, staring at him with such intense emotion that Cisco wasn’t sure had ever been directed toward him before.

“It’s not too soon.” Harry nodded once, “I’m in love with you, too.” Cisco felt his legs grow weak and he gripped onto Harry’s hips tight, feeling a bit like he had whiplash. Harry was in love with him, too? “And even if it is soon, we’ll figure out the rest. If you want to. Because I know I do.”

“Yeah, yes.” Cisco nodded in his hold. And Harry smiled. So brilliantly, as though the sun and moon were in view at the same damn time. The next thing Cisco knew, he was being kissed. And he’d never felt more elated in his life. Was this what happily ever after felt like? He couldn’t stop himself from smiling, and he felt Harry smile right back. “This is not what I pictured would happen this morning.” Harry lifted his head, still smiling, though softer.

“What did you picture?”

“Well, we got the sleeping in right. Next step was supposed to be coffee on the fire escape.” He turned a little, feeling Harry’s hands fall away. Cisco grabbed both mugs, then held out one to Harry. “Black. Nothing in it.” Harry took it, leaning in and softly kissing Cisco’s cheek. Then he motioned with his free hand.

“Lead the way, Ramon.”

Cisco wasn’t sure he could move at first. But then Harry winked at him, and Cisco smiled, strength finding its way back into his legs. A minute later, he was in a sweatshirt and sitting in his beat-up lawn chair on the landing of the fire escape, Harry settled on the steps with one leg stretched out. The smell of fresh apple pie was in the air, and they could hear Mrs. Mavis’ record player belting out Frank Sinatra. It all felt a bit like a dream, being able to share that with him.

He wondered if anyone else would have thought Harry would want a morning like this. He knew some people at work who thought Harry slept on rose petals and spent his free time living the high life. And yet, here he was, happy to sit sideways on hard metal steps and drink coffee out of an old Star Wars mug. Harry reached down and grabbed Cisco’s hand, bringing it to his lap, weaving their fingers together as he took a long sip of his coffee, eyes roaming over the colored flags and ropes above their heads. Cisco relaxed further into his chair, taking a sip of his own as he enjoyed the moment, wanting it to last as long as possible…

Chapter 13: “So where are we going?”

Chapter Text

Harry was standing in front of a section of wall that was very neatly filled with a collage of pictures, most of them were of Ramon with Snow, Raymond, Allen, and West over the years. There were also pictures of places Ramon had seen, some of the neighbors and him either having a meal or playing a game together in the alley, and pictures of his cat. But of all the pictures, there was one in particular that had Harry’s attention.

“Those are my parents. And my brother, Dante.” Cisco said of the aged photo, coming up behind him with a refill on both their coffees. Harry glanced at him, then took his mug, nodding lightly. “I’m not even sure why I have it up there.” He said quietly, holding his mug in both hands and lifting it to his lips. He took a slow sip, sighing afterward as his too-sugary coffee made its way down his throat.

“When was the last time you spoke with them?” Harry raised his own mug, drinking as he looked back at the photo. He could see the resemblance clearly. Ramon had traits from both his parents. They stood side by side in the photo, with two boys in front of them. One boy was taller, but Harry could tell that wasn’t Ramon. The other boy… he had the same smile as Cisco did now. The same eyes.

“The day after I came out.” He said, turning away from the wall and wandering over to his couch. He set his mug on the coffee table and plopped down on one end, sinking into a gray cushion and pulling his legs up beneath himself. Harry watched him for a moment, then followed, sitting down on the other end, slightly sideways so he could see Ramon better. He draped one arm over the back of the couch, holding his mug against his thigh with the other hand. Cisco was watching him calmly, then he looked down at the coffee table.

“My Dad was furious. I don’t think he’d ever hit anyone before. But he came very close to hitting me when I told them I was gay. He grabbed me by the shirt and just… it was like… he was made of rage all of a sudden, ya know? Like he was someone else.” Cisco seemed to hug himself absently.

“I watched him make a fist, and I think if my Mom hadn’t stepped in between us, he’d have let it fly. He sorta snapped out of it. He seemed as shocked as the rest of us did. I locked myself in my room. And the next morning, my brother told me that Mom and Dad were worried what everyone at church would think, and that they were trying to find a program to send me to that would fix me… like I had a disease. He said I should act happy about it, that I should tell them I wanted to be ‘cured.’” Cisco made a disgusted face at the idea.

“I tried to get them to listen. To understand. It only made it worse. Dad said I was worthless. He finally just… tossed a bunch of my stuff into a garbage bag, told me to take it, and the rest was history. I slept on the street for four days until I figured out shelters were a thing. I never spoke to any of them again after that.” Harry could feel his jaw straining, his hand nearly white-knuckling his mug. Cisco finally looked at him, and he seemed subdued by his memories and Harry’s own expression.

“You look really angry.” Ramon said, studying him intently. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you angry. Agitated, sure but… not angry.” It was almost like he was trying to pinpoint his own understanding of Harry’s expressions. And Harry sighed through his nostrils before carefully setting his mug down on the coffee table. Then he held his hand out to Cisco. At first, he blinked at him, then took his hand and let himself be pulled. He ended up curled right into Harry, legs draped over his lap, arms around Harry’s middle as he held him back.

“I am angry.” Harry admitted easily, though his voice was tight as he rested his cheek against Cisco’s head. “What they did to you…” His voice trailed off and he stared straight ahead at the black screen of the television. “You deserved so much better, Ramon.” Cisco was so quiet afterward, then he turned his face into Harry’s throat like he needed skin-to-skin contact.

“I used to wonder if they even looked for me. If they ever felt bad about what they did. Now, I wonder if my parents are still alive, or if my brother ever ended up in Julliard like he’d been dreaming about. I wonder if they think I’m dead.” He sighed warm breath against Harry’s throat, then relaxed in his hold again. “Do you think about your father?”

“I know my father’s alive. He’s still in Alaska.” He said, “I just don’t care. Which… I suppose sounds callous. But he’s never tried to contact me. He’s never expressed any interest in being a part of my life. So, I don’t allow myself to wonder anymore.”

“Did your parents know that you’re bi?” Cisco asked. And Harry smiled a little.

“I didn’t even know I was, until I was about seventeen years old. I’d always been attracted to certain people, to thinkers and doers. I didn’t care what gender they were, though I found both sexes to be physically appealing. I never really put a label on it until a colleague pointed out that was probably what I was.”

“So you didn’t really have to do the coming-out thing, huh.”

“It didn’t seem important to do. Those who needed to know did. The rest didn’t factor in.”

“Then why announce it in a magazine article?” Cisco questioned, lifting his head to look at him. Harry examined the dark amber flecks in his eyes.

“I’m not sure I’d consider it an announcement. No reporter had ever asked my preference before. That one did. So, I answered.” Harry shrugged. “It wasn’t without consequence. More than a little hate mail landed on my doorstep after that. But there was far more support, including quite a few letters from young scientists thanking me for it. Though, I’m not sure why it’s a thing to be thanked for.” He smoothed his hand up and down Ramon’s spine. “It’s just who I am.” Cisco’s smile was slightly amused. “What?”

“I admire you.” He shifted a little so he could see Harry better, “You’re so comfortable in your own skin, and you don’t care what anyone else thinks.”

“I care what you think.” He said softly. And Cisco only smiled more. He treated him to a soothing kiss, then settled back into Harry’s hold. “People should admire you far more than they do me. You came from nothing, fought your way into a life you can be proud of. I simply had something people wanted or got use out of. I worked the system until I made it my own. I used that to my advantage to do what I do now.”

“Harry… you literally built an empire, alone. You said so yourself that you had a lot of people standing in your way. You didn’t let it stop you. And because of that, because of you… the world changed for the better. The things we get to create and the advancements we get to share help people every day. We even get to save lives. And I get to be a part of that. That wouldn’t have happened without S.T.A.R. Labs. Or you. And I’m grateful.”

“You got where you are entirely on your own, Ramon. Be grateful to yourself, and your own strength. You never gave up on having a better life. And you stayed true to who you are. You’re a superhero in my eyes.”

“Superhero, huh.” Cisco chuckled a little, “Can you imagine? I wonder what my powers would be.”

“I already think you’re magnetic.” Harry mused. And then his stomach made a sound, gurgling rather loudly. Cisco lifted his head again, straightening in Harry’s hold a little. And he was smiling, both amused and content.

“Hungry?” Cisco asked pointedly. Harry shrugged a little. “Wait, when was the last time you ate?” Harry blinked, looking past Cisco in thought. “You didn’t eat at all yesterday, did you.” Ramon accused. And Harry looked back at him, narrowing his gaze a little.

“I didn’t exactly pack a lunch. And you know what happened last night.”

“Wow.” Ramon said, eyes a little wide. He pushed up away from Harry, standing rather quickly. “You are terrible at taking care of yourself.” He walked past the couch, leaving Harry sitting there confused.

“What’re you doing?” He asked, turning to look over the back of the couch. Cisco was at his dresser, pulling clothes out. “Ramon.”

“I’m getting dressed, and then we,” He pointed at Harry, a t-shirt hanging from his grip, “Are going to get pancakes.”

“Pancakes.” Harry parroted.

“Yes, Harry. Pancakes. Or something else breakfasty.”

“Breakfasty is not a word.”

“It is now, and I know the perfect place. It’s a five-minute walk.” And before Harry could think to protest, Cisco closed his drawer, arm full of clothes, and he walked into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. Harry turned back around and looked down at their mugs on the coffee table. And for a moment, he wasn’t quite sure what to do. Then he figured he shouldn’t just sit there like a lump, and he grabbed the mugs, bringing them to the sink. He rinsed them out, then used the towel hanging from the stove to dry them. He left them by the coffee pot, not wanting to rifle through Ramon’s cabinets without permission. Then Molly, in all her fluffy glory, hopped up on the counter right in front of him with a short meow.

She pushed her head into Harry immediately, tail up and flicking, a high-pitched purr meeting his ears. At first, he stood there with his hands up and empty. Then he ran one palm over her back, toward her tail. She arched beneath his palm, purring harder. Normally, he didn’t interact with cats. They didn’t like him, so he steered clear. But this one was… nice. She moved back and forth in front of him, letting Harry pet her lightly.

“Friendly, aren’t you.” He said quietly. Then he felt a hand smooth down his spine. Harry stilled, his hand pausing over the cat’s head.

“She likes you. That’s crazy.” Cisco hummed behind him, and Harry smiled a little, turning his head to look at him as he came into view. “People say that about their pets all the time. But she’s really antisocial. I found her in a dumpster. Someone had thrown her in. She had a broken leg, and most of her fur was gone. I nursed her back to health, but it was a whole month before she’d even let me cuddle with her. After that, she and I were inseparable, but I’ve literally never seen her let anyone else pet her. Not even Barry or Caitlin.” He leaned into Harry, sliding his hand around his back and to Harry’s hip. Harry draped his arm over Cisco’s shoulder, watching as Molly sat down and purred at them through narrow-slit eyes.

“She’s delusional, then. I’m not an animal person. I’m a terrible choice for affection.” He remarked, and Cisco chuckled.

“I think you like animals. You just pretend you don’t.”

“What gives you that idea?

“You said Jesse has a parrot.”

“Right. Jesse has one. Not me. And he and I don’t get along.”

“You said he was always stealing your food, your pens, stuff like that.” Cisco turned into him, looking up. “Which meant you never really tried to stop him.”

“Yeah, because he’s a bird. I’m not going to argue with a bird.” Harry stated, and Cisco grinned at him.

“Exactly my point.”

“I am so confused right now.” He frowned a little, and Cisco shook his head, reaching up and kissing him lightly.

“Come on, let’s go.” He urged, then stepped back. Ramon was wearing black cargo pants with a light blue t-shirt that had a picture of a proton and the words ‘Be like a proton: Positive, even when surrounded by negatives.’ Harry realized he’d never seen that one before. In fact, Cisco never seemed to wear the same shirt twice. Which made him wonder exactly how many Ramon had.

They put on their shoes and jackets, and Cisco grabbed his messenger bag. Harry made sure he had his phone and wallet in his pockets. And Ramon made sure that Molly had food and water in her bowls. Then Harry followed him out the door, down the steps, and outside.

It was still nice out. Cool, but sunny. People were milling about, cars filled every spot along the street, and he could hear jazz music still playing in the alley. Ramon hooked his hand into Harry’s arm and they both started walking. It was easy, comfortable. As though Cisco had no reservations about being seen with him.

“So where are we going?” He asked, slipping his hands into his jacket pockets, enjoying the feel of Ramon’s presence at his side.

“I know the lady who owns the diner right around the corner. It’s called Hope’s Place.” He said, “It’s open twenty-four seven. And they serve kick ass breakfast all day long.” He led Harry toward the far end of the street. “I worked there in high school, and I kept going back after graduation. It’s part of the reason why I wanted to live in this neighborhood.”

“You wanted to move here because of a diner?”

“Not just any diner.” They waited for a group of older women to move past, stepping to the edge of the sidewalk. A few of them smiled, one of them was nudging another excitedly as she made eye contact with Harry. Cisco tugged him back into walking, turning at the corner. “When I ended up on the streets, I heard a rumor about a woman who gave legit jobs to street kids. I needed to eat, needed essentials, so I went to Hope’s and practically begged for work.” He stopped halfway down the road, side by side with him, and pointed up at a literal tin-can looking diner. Like something straight out of a magazine.

“The owner, Bee, didn’t even hesitate. Turns out, helping kids like me was the whole point of the diner. Her father opened it after she came out as trans in the early nineties. He heard about all the kids like her who were thrown out by their families, and he wanted them to have a fighting chance. She took over when he passed. They’d been giving runaways and throw outs honest work for years, to help them get off the streets.” He leaned slightly into Harry, looking over the familiar sight. “Besides you, she’s the most unique person I know. She can’t fully medically transition because she was born with a heart condition. But she rocks it. She’s never unhappy. And she’s probably here. Last I checked, she only takes Mondays off.”

It all sounded wonderful to Harry, his eyes roaming over the building. It had flashing lights and a neon sign in bright pink that flashed ‘Hope’s Place’ on the roof. There were tables set up outside, all of them occupied, brightly blooming flowers ran up the outside walls on vines, and the inside looked bustling. He could see two bus boys and three wait staff hurrying around. Teenagers by the look of it. The smell of the food was amazing. But none of that held Harry’s attention anymore. His gaze had lingered to the man at his side, and he was instantly entranced by the unfiltered happiness on his features. When he looked back at Harry, he lifted his brows a little.

“If I haven’t told you yet today,” Harry turned into him, easily pulling him close, “You’re remarkable, Ramon. You keep amazing me.” Cisco blushed almost instantly, smiling with a soft huff of breath. He smoothed his hands up Harry’s arms.

“But I didn’t do anything.” He muttered. But Harry smiled and leaned into him, kissing him lightly. Cisco’s blush only got redder.

“You’re constantly giving me insight into your world. You took so much hardship and turned it into something wonderful.”

“I… it wasn’t just me, though.” He motioned absently at the diner with his head. “If it wasn’t for places like this, my story could’ve ended a whole lot differently.”

“You found this place. You chose to take steps not to end up in a far worse existence. It could have been so much easier to head down a terrible road. But you fought for something better.”

“How do you do that?” Cisco’s voice softened considerably, along with his eyes. “I tell other people where I started, and they shower me in pity, which I hate. But you…” he shook his head a little, “You make it seem like I’m more than just a survivor.”

“You are.” Harry nodded. “You’re a superhero, remember?” He reminded, and Cisco grinned, kissing him again.

“Francisco Ramon!” A slightly deep voice caught both of their attention, each looking toward the walkway of the diner. “What in the world are you doing?” Ramon grinned instantly.

“Hiya, Bee.”

Bee was at least two inches taller than Harry, built like a linebacker, with shoulder length curly red hair, practically professional makeup, a bright red manicure, wearing a flowing green summer dress that barely fit her muscular frame, with a soft white shawl and tan wedges. Harry smiled instantly. She walked up to them, her own smile spread wide.

“You’re not just gonna ‘Hiya, Bee’ me. I haven’t seen you in almost two weeks, and you’re just gonna show up on my stoop, kissing Doctor Harrison Wells like that wouldn’t be an utter shock to my delicate system?” She demanded, putting her hands on her hips. Harry lifted his brows and Cisco cringed a little. “That’s right, I know who you are, pretty man.” She said to Harry, “I’d know your fine face anywhere. I’ve seen you on the news. And I also know all about the good you’ve done in this city.” She remarked, far more seriously. Then looked at Ramon, leaning in and speaking almost conspiratorially. “If I’d known he swung in this direction, I’d have hunted him down myself.” She winked and Cisco chuckled.

“Oh, I like you.” Harry said easily, nodding, looking down at Ramon.

“What’s not to like?” Bee grinned. “Now tell me, Francisco, how long has this been going on, hm?”

“Uh, it’s kinda new.” Ramon met Harry’s gaze, eyes glistening again. Harry would never tire of that glisten. “We’re still figuring it out.”

“I don’t buy that.” Bee said, shaking her head. “No way you two haven’t been joined at the hip forever. Look at you.” She motioned between the two of them. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you’ve been at it for years.”

“Yup. I definitely like you.” Harry said again, smiling at her comfortably. She made a ‘phew’ sound, then wagged her hand at her face.

“That smile.” She grinned. “I’m mad at you, Francisco. You should have brought him by much sooner.” She nudged Cisco, who chuckled.

“You can’t have him, Bee. I’ve got dibs. Besides, we’re here now. And we’re both hungry.”

“Why didn’t you say so! I’ve got two seats at the counter. But only if you promise to tell me every detail. Come on, boys!” She urged, turning around and heading toward the door. Ramon wiggled his brows at Harry and took his hand, leading him inside right after. The space was crowded but had that ambiance of a communal space, where everyone seemed comfortable among everyone else. They sat at the far end of a long bar on tall red spinning stools. He could feel a joyous energy flowing off Ramon, permeating everything around him. And when he looked at him, he could see something like relief in his eyes. As though he hadn’t been quite sure how this would all go. Harry leaned into him, bringing his lips near Cisco’s ear and speaking only loud enough for him to hear.

“Thank you.” Harry said, and Ramon turned his face immediately, noses brushing, dark brown eyes roaming over his brightly.

“You keep doing that,” he said clearly, “Thanking me.” He kissed Harry softly. “You don’t have anything to thank me for.” Harry lifted his hand and stroked Cisco’s cheek lightly.

“You’re so wrong about that.” He remarked, just as Bee plopped two menus down right in front of them, grinning from ear to ear.

“I’ll take your orders, then you two,” She pointed from one man to the other, “Are spilling every bean there is to spill.” Harry straightened, grabbing his menu.

“Sorry, Bee. I don’t kiss and tell.” He said, and Bee looked right at Ramon who damn near tried to hide himself behind his own menu. Harry could see him, though. He was smiling so wide, he practically glowed. Harry never wanted to lose that image.

Ramon didn’t think Harry had anything to thank him for.

But Harry was happy. Happier than he had felt in years. And it was all because of him.

In Harry’s mind, that meant he had every damn thing to thank him for.

He wasn’t going to miss a single opportunity to do so.

Chapter 14: "You’re sure about this, Ramon?”

Chapter Text

Breakfast went really, really well.

Cisco hadn’t known what he’d be in for when he dragged Harry out. He hadn’t really been thinking at the time how odd it might be for Harry to be thrust into something that was normal for Cisco, or how nervous Cisco would end up being once they got there.

Hope’s was a huge part of Cisco’s life. He'd made terrible decisions his first month on the streets. Things he could never forget. Things that still haunted him. But between the gym teacher, Mr. Caldwell, who let him sleep on the risers when the shelters were full, the different shelter workers who would get him extra food or toiletries, and Bee, who never turned him away, Cisco had managed to survive something unforgiving and painful. He liked to think he would have been able to do it alone, one way or another. Caitlin, Barry, and now Harry helped him believe that, too. But sometimes he wondered if he’d have survived it without every chance he’d been given along the way. Would he have made it through high school? Would he have been able to go to college? Would he have ever met Barry and Caitlin? Or Harry? The possibility that he wouldn’t have made his stomach turn.

As it turned out, Harry hadn’t seemed uncomfortable in the least being thrown into another part of Cisco’s life, like he hadn’t been at Cisco’s apartment. Part of him had been sure that Harry might feel out of sorts there. It was as modest as places came, with nothing even remotely fancy, and not a single rich amenity to be found. But Harry looked as comfortable on his secondhand couch as he would have on a brand new one.

The entire time he was at Hope’s, he seemed to be just as at home. And none of it was for show. He didn’t hide his affections for Cisco and got along with Bee a whole lot better than he could have predicted. Mrs. Mavis even came in to pick up some of Bee’s carrot cake, and then spent about ten minutes rambling about how much everyone in the complex loved Cisco. Harry sat there with a calm smile on his face, always looking at Cisco as though he was made of luminescent color.

Even when any of the attention was turned to Harry, not once did he seem agitated by it. At one point, when they were getting up to leave, a younger couple came up to them and asked if Harry could sign the Science Now magazine they had, specifically the one with Harry right on the cover. Only then did Harry look like he might feel a little out of place, but he signed it with a smile, answering a quick question they had about the particle accelerator, and sending the friendly but excited pair off with smiles on their faces.

It made Cisco think about Harry’s date idea.

He knew all about the gala. Caitlin and Ronnie went last year, and Barry and Iris had gone the year before that. They all said it was a great time, with music and dancing, and a charity auction. Fancy dresses and tailored suits and meals made by 5-star chefs. Cisco had the chance to go before. But he just… didn’t. No matter how successful he was, or how far he’d come in life, he would never think he belonged in that world. Or at least… he didn’t think he should try. Until now. Because of Harry.

If Harry could look at his life and see so much wonder, couldn’t Cisco do the same for him?

It was clear Harry wasn’t a fan of the attention, but all that glamour was still a part of his world. Even if he didn’t necessarily want it to be. Maybe Cisco could make all that feel more tolerable for Harry. He was willing to try.

“I know what I want to do tonight.” He said, looking down at their joined hands as they walked. Harry slowed his steps, glancing at him. “Let’s go to the gala.” Harry stopped completely, stepping back and tugging Cisco with him so a lady pushing a baby carriage could go by.

“Are you sure?” He asked, eyes searching his. “It’s… nothing like all this, Ramon.” He motioned around with his free hand. “Not peaceful and real.” He looked down the road toward Cisco’s apartment building. “It’s fake smiles and businessmen with an agenda. It’s judgmental colleagues and greedy money seekers. It’s reporters and sound bites.” He looked back at him. “Science was never supposed to be about all that. But it was necessary to grow the labs. To get the funding and the backers. I had to follow the money to make a difference. I’ve always hated what comes with that.”

“This gala…” Cisco stepped closer to him, “It’s about raising money for a good cause. Like all of the other charities, grants, funds, scholarships and more,” Cisco poked him in the chest for emphasis, “That you created. Just like you created a company that saves lives all over the world. All that money and greed you had to deal with didn’t change who you are. It could’ve. But you didn’t let it.”

“You’ve heard people talk.” Harry said quietly, “I live on top of it all, in an expensive house, staring down at it all like I’m Zeus on Olympus.”

“You bought a home to raise your kid in where she could look up at a sky with endless possibilities and out at a city filled with dreams that you taught her how to reach for.” Cisco countered, and Harry grew somewhat quiet. “Harry, money doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You earned and fought for everything you have, too. Just like I did.”

“Not like you did.” Harry looked around again. “I think you got the better deal.” He met his gaze and smiled softly. “Prepare yourself, Ramon. It’s going to be chaos, when they realize you’re there with me. As my date.”

“They?”

“The press.”

“Oh, right.” Cisco’s eyes wandered toward Harry’s chest in thought. “Do I have to interact with them?”

“Not if you don’t want to. If you get cornered, only give one-word replies. Never give more away than you’re willing to share. You don’t owe anyone answers about anything.” Harry reached up and untwisted the strap to Cisco’s messenger bag. “I promise not to leave your side. You won’t have to do any of it alone. And by now, most of the reporters in the city know me well enough to expect me to be standoffish.” Cisco chuckled.

“You? Standoffish? Never.” Harry smirked at that and leaned in, kissing his forehead softly.

“You’re sure about this, Ramon?”

“I wasn’t before.” He looked down between them, thinking. “But I am now.”

“What changed your mind?”

“You did.” He looked back up. “Being here, with me. Doing all this.” He motioned out. “Maybe I was a little worried before, about how my life might measure up. But I’m figuring out I trust you. Because you’ve been honest about everything so far. And you said… you don’t care about all the things I’m not. So… I want to give your world a chance like you gave mine one.” Harry smiled, eyes damn near turning into beacons of brilliantly addictive blue that Cisco swore was brighter than the spotlights on the roof of S.T.A.R. Labs. It was a look that instantly took Cisco’s breath away. “Besides,” he swallowed, “The idea of not only seeing you in a suit, but seeing you in a spotlight? How could I possibly turn that up.” Harry smiled wider, chuckling a little. Cisco kissed him quickly, then pulled him into walking again.

It didn’t take long to get back to the apartment, but Harry stopped on the threshold, grabbing his backpack from beside the door. Cisco paused a few steps in, looking back at him.

“I don’t want to go, but I have to.” Harry said before he had the chance to question him. He hooked the bag over his shoulder. “As much as I wish I could completely avoid work for a full day, it’s not possible right now.” He reached for Cisco, grabbing the sleeve of his sweatshirt and pulling him. Cisco was fairly sure his face was painted in disappointment because Harry smiled slyly before he kissed him somehow delicately and deeply all at once, like he was trying to erase it. It left Cisco teetering a little, heart racing as he blinked his eyes open at him. “I’ll send a car for you. It’ll be here at 7:45.” He curled some of Cisco’s hair behind his ear, then gripped his chin with his thumb and finger, kissing him lightly one more time. “If you change your mind between now and then, it’s alright, Ramon. There’s no pressure here. I promise you that.”

“I won’t.” Cisco smiled, fixing the lapel of Harry’s jacket absently, finally meeting his endless blues. Slowly, Harry stepped backward, and Cisco’s hand fell away. It was so much harder than it seemed to let him go, and by the look of struggling affection in Harry’s eyes, it was clear it was just as hard for Harry.

“I’ll see you soon.” Harry said softly, voice barely carrying beyond the two of them. Then he turned and moved for the stairs, as though he had to steel himself and go now or he’d never leave. Harry had a whole hell of a lot more willpower than Cisco did. It was ridiculous, actually, how much he wanted to grab him and yank him back into the apartment.

It was almost noon. They could survive a handful of hours without each other, right? In fact, it gave them something to look forward to. Which is what he was trying to convince himself of as he looked around his quiet apartment. But as the clock on his fridge changed the minute and his eyes landed on the 8-ball sitting on his nightstand, he realized he might be a little addicted to Harry’s presence already. He didn’t need the 8-ball to tell him he wasn’t quite ready to let Harry out of his sight just yet.

Cisco hurried down the stairs after Harry. He caught up with him at the front door. Harry looked a little surprised, and like he was about to ask a question, but Cisco grabbed him by the jacket, pushed him back into the heavy door and kissed him like maybe the world was ending and it might be his last chance. Harry’s hands gripped his hips hard, giving in to that kiss, unable or maybe unwilling to do anything else. When they both finally needed to come up for air, Cisco was holding his face and they were both panting softly, blinking at each other.

“I, uh…” Cisco began, but Harry cut him off with one more, much softer kiss.

“Come with me.” Harry remarked softly. His eyes… sh*t, those eyes. Cisco felt like he’d fallen straight into them. The blues looked like the meeting of the ocean and the sky, ever drifting over Cisco’s darker hues. And there was a cold fire to them, a promise and a demand all at once. Neither of which Cisco could ever deny. “Grab what you need, I’ll get the SUV.”

Cisco felt his cheeks pull as his lips spread in a wide, untethered smile. One that made Harry smile back instantly. He didn’t hesitate this time. He pulled away from Harry before he could second guess anything and ran back up the stairs. He was out of breath by the time he got back to the apartment, realizing he’d left the door wide open because Molly was sitting at the threshold, swishing her tail back and forth.

“Don’t judge me.” He panted, pointing at her. She purred loudly. He plucked her up and nudged the door shut with his foot, plopping her onto the bed. And then he spent the next handful of minutes packing a small duffle with a change of clothes, toiletries, pajama pants, and his dress shoes. He plucked his phone charger and the 8-ball off his nightstand. Then he grabbed his garment bag out of the small closet in the bathroom.

He unzipped it slightly, peering in at the somewhat shiny maroon material of his blazer. He checked to make sure his black tie and dress shirt were with it, along with the matching maroon pants. He never really wore anything that was expensive. But he’d bought this suit for Caitlin’s wedding. Her father had passed a year before the big day, so she asked Cisco and Barry to walk her down the aisle. It was the greatest honor he’d ever had in his life, and he hadn’t been about to cheap out on it. He’d never worn it again, but he knew it still fit. He hoped it would be fancy enough for a gala.

He zipped the black bag back up, then draped it over his arm before grabbing his duffle, double checked Molly’s food and water, then shut off the lights and left, locking his door behind him. Harry was waiting outside with the SUV running. And Cisco put his things in the back before climbing into the front, settling into the front passenger seat as Harry pulled out.

Cisco reached out and grabbed his hand, pulling it against his thigh and curling his fingers into Harry’s. Harry offered him a soft smile and Cisco did everything he could to focus only on the feel of his warm palm. Even just that little bit of contact was like an anchor. He briefly wondered what it meant, that he was this lost on Harry after only five days.

As he drove, Cisco was entirely focused on Harry’s silhouette. The sharp cut of his jaw, the subtle lines around the brilliance of his eyes. His lips were set in concentration, like he was feeling too many good things and trying to think beyond it. Cisco was learning that Harry’s emotions were always at the surface, made visible by experience and time. But what he seemed to feel for Cisco had softened the hard edges of his psyche somehow. At least, that’s what Cisco hoped.

He'd heard all the stories about Harry’s anger. He’d heard that he could intimidate anyone with well-placed words and the tone of his voice. And some part of Cisco thought maybe he should be afraid of what that meant. Especially considering his own past. But another part of Cisco wanted to see that part of Harry for himself far more. He wanted to witness the side of Harry that was all caustic fire. He wasn’t scared, despite what logic seemed to dictate. Because he’d seen how easily Harry had controlled it in Cisco’s presence after hearing about what his family had done to him. It had been palpable and absolute. And somehow well honed. But for Cisco, Harry tempered his temper. And Cisco had known in that moment that Harry would never turn his fire against him. If anything, he’d only use that fire to protect him. To love him with.

And, not for the first time since Tuesday, Cisco felt like he was falling even deeper in love with Harrison Wells.

He never wanted the fall to end.

* * *

Brian Reed stayed leaning and hidden half in shadow against the building across the street as he watched Cisco climb into the SUV. His hands were deep in the pockets of the worn-out jacket he was wearing, the zipper pulled up tight and the brown material snug around his form. He could feel the tension run up his spine, watching the way Cisco smiled as he closed the door, damn near ecstatic to be going with whoever that guy was.

Brian had to admit, the man in the dark clothes seemed so familiar. Something about the seriousness of his features tickled some recognition in the back of his head, but he was far more attuned to the way Cisco had lost himself in that man’s arms outside of Hope’s. Watching them kiss had threaded a rage through every fiber of his being. Yes, Brian had been watching then, too.

It had been three years since he’d faked his death. It helped that Brian was the illegitimate child of a rich insurance magnate who would rather keep his bastard son a secret, and was willing to pay whatever Brian wanted to do it, which included buying off dirty cops and fudging official records.

With what he’d been charged with against Cisco, he’d ended up with four outstanding warrants over the years. Add to that the wrath of an entire police department because of one particular Detective, and Brian figured it was easier to disappear than deal with the chaos. So he’d found a homeless man who looked a lot like him. He’d planned out the route, paid off a greedy patrol officer, and the rest was an Oscar worthy performance. But that was hardly where his plans ended.

Brian was a man of particular hungers and tastes. He expected certain things, demanded his needs be met. He knew that put him into the category of a narcissist. Maybe something worse than that. The bottom line was, he wasn’t a good man. He didn’t claim to be. He was perfectly alright with that. It was everyone else that had the problem.

Due to his peculiarities, however, he had never really found anyone he could seriously consider keeping. He’d slept around. He’d had his fun. He took his time and didn’t settle. And yes, he could get pretty damn rough. When he was younger, his carelessness had gotten him his earlier warrants. But it was no problem for him. He was smart enough to know how to stay under the radar and having a rich daddy helped with the incidentals. Still, all of that afforded him very little leeway in finding someone he could claim to be worth his time. Until Cisco.

He'd been vibrant the day they’d met. It was like everyone gravitated toward him, delighted to be close to someone who could effortlessly make the world seem a touch brighter just by existing. And he'd known instantly that he needed to have power over that, to make Cisco his, to own him. It had been so easy at first. And Cisco was compliant, maybe even a little desperate to cure his own loneliness. Then Cisco had revealed his own peculiarities to him. Things Brian could absolutely give him. All Cisco needed to do was everything else.

Except everything else apparently was too big a task. He gave Cisco many chances. More than he deserved. And, yeah… he was sorry for almost killing him. It wasn’t as though he’d gone into Cisco’s apartment expecting to bloody him up so badly. But after everything he’d done for him, Cisco had the audacity to tell him they were over? Brian simply could not let that stand. It wasn’t up to Cisco to decide that.

Granted, he’d realized he’d gone a bit far. His rage had taken over for a bit. Though he tried to ease that with something he knew they both wanted. When Cisco had stopped moving, however, he’d come back to his senses. It wouldn’t have gotten that bad if he’d just listened, if he’d done what he was told without question. sh*t, it could have been so much worse if Brian had wanted it to be. But he’d called an ambulance, hadn’t he? Wasn’t that generous enough?

Apparently not. Because Cisco had told the police Brian had not only raped him, but wanted him dead. Which was total bullsh*t. Brian had never had to force anyone for sex a day in his life. He’d read the police reports, though, his father getting him access. When Cisco recalled the beating, he made it seem like Brian had only one goal: Cisco’s end. But he’d never wanted him dead. At least not at the time. Not until he realized that Cisco was never going to come around.

He couldn’t let that stand, either. But he’d run out of time to change this ending.

So, he decided it was time to take care of business. Starting with the first people to cross him. He was working his way through a list, cleaning up his past messes one at a time, fully intent on showing Cisco why he was the lucky one before the clock ran out. And Cisco would have no choice but to come to his senses. Though now, Brian knew he had no forgiveness left in him because it took all the willpower he had to stand there and watch as Cisco, the man Brian had been ready to give everything to, shoved his tongue down another man’s throat.

Once the SUV was well out of sight, he stopped the record button on his phone, lowering it so he could rewind the footage he’d just taken. He zoomed in on the license plate. It was a GSA plate, official with an exempt tag, which instantly told Brian that whoever that asshole was, he was important. And he memorized the number quickly, walking as he quickly called a number.

“Hey, it’s me.” He said when the other line connected, “Yeah, I need you to get your guy to run a plate for me.” He paused, fishing his keys out of his pocket. “Make time. You know what will happen if you don’t.” He nodded to no one, going around the front of the gray sedan he’d stolen. And as he read off the plate number and hung up, he instantly began preparing what he’d say to Cisco when he finally got him alone.

There was a lot he needed to get off his chest before he punished him. And he wouldn’t stop this time. When he was finished, there wouldn’t be an ambulance coming to save Cisco. It would be a coroner with a body bag just for him, and maybe one for his new boyfriend, too…

Chapter 15: “Make me useless, Harry.”

Chapter Text

The driveway was long and private, and curved around the front of the house, surrounded by tall and full oak and sycamore trees that swayed in a subtle breeze. Flower bushes lined the edge of the drive, though there weren’t any blooms this time of year. The house itself was one floor, a clean and modern build with gray stone walls and wide, spacious windows that allowed natural light any time of day. The black metal roof was vaulted, with solar panels lining it in rows. There was an attached garage and a large shed at the end of the drive. He wasn’t much of an architect, but he’d had a say in everything that went into the build. It was simple, but spacious and clean.

He knew what people thought of how he lived. None of those people knew that he hadn’t spent nearly as much money on building it as they might believe. He’d paid local builders, using only small name companies to do the work because he valued the integrity of small businesses. He paid them more than double what they usually made for a project like this. And the land he’d bought was done with the intent of keeping it entirely as it was. They’d only cleared a small portion of trees, and the rest of the ten and half acres was completely left to nature.

Ramon practically bounded out of the SUV when Harry parked, excitedly closing the door and turning in a complete circle in the midday sun, looking around and up as he did. It wasn’t till Harry got out that he opened the passenger door to grab his things. Harry followed suit, smiling at the enthusiasm as Cisco hurried to his side.

“There are so many trees.” Ramon said, nodding at his own obvious statement. “So, so many.”

“Not what you were expecting?”

“Would you believe I’ve never been to Arrow Hills?” Cisco squinted a little and Harry lifted his brows.

“Really…” That was surprising. It was only a fifteen-minute drive from the edge of the city. “Why not?” Cisco shrugged.

“I grew up on the other end of the city, near the warehouse district. My parents weren’t big on vacations. And I never really had a reason to go on my own. I mean, everything I needed was always in the city. Except for now.” He replied, looking around again. That glisten was back in his eyes and there was palpable joy rolling off him in waves. Harry reached down and took his free hand, and Ramon looked back at him instantly.

“Let’s go inside, put these bags down.” He said, and Cisco smiled wide.

After Harry unlocked the door, motion sensor lights flicked on in the clean, sky-blue foyer that led straight to a wide, open concept living room, dining room, and kitchen. The ceilings were high, lit with embedded lights in the horizontal beams. Vertical beams stood in various points of the space, decorated in artwork Jesse had picked over the years. The floors were gray stone tile. There was a wraparound couch that was a deep midnight blue at the center of the living room area, cherry wood end tables and a coffee table to match around it. There was a large flat screen TV on the wall between two floor-to-ceiling windows, above a bookshelf that came to about Harry’s hip and stretched the entire length of the wall, filled with scientific texts. Pictures in frames sat along the top, mostly of Jesse. In one corner was a stereo system, complete with turntable and subwoofer. In another, a liquor cart.

Behind the couch, in the rest of the open space, there was a long, twelve-seater, heavy dark wood table with matching chairs. No one had eaten at it since Jesse had gone to college. Now, it was nearly covered in papers, files, schematics, more. Jesse used to get so frustrated with his ever-spreading chaos, telling him ‘That’s what you have an office for, Dad.’ But his home office was no better. A large, modern kitchen was located beyond, with stainless steel appliances, black and white marble counters, and light gray cabinetry.

Harry was watching Ramon, however, gauging every reaction. He was nearly hyper-focused on his every step, and trying very hard not to be. It had never mattered to Harry before what anyone thought about him, or his living situation. But he hadn’t lied when he’d told Cisco that he cared what he thought. He really, really did.

“Wow. I bet you have a maid and a chef.” Cisco said, instantly helping Harry focus on something else… like annoyance. Ramon looked up at the high ceiling as he wandered further in.

“Say something like that again, and I might lower my opinion of you.” Harry quipped, closing the door and dropping his backpack on the entryway table.

“Do you sleep on silk sheets?” Ramon grinned as he stopped near the couch. Harry turned stiffly to look at him.

“Now you’re just being irritating.” He said flatly. And Cisco laughed immediately.

“I’m kidding, Harry. You’re not the type. Though… I bet your sheets have a hell of a thread count.” He said with a wink, and draped his suit bag over the arm of the couch. He also dropped his bag beside the coffee table, and wandered over to the bookshelf, examining the photos.

“And what makes you think I’m not the type?” Harry pressed softly, watching him. Cisco crouched for a moment, running his fingers along the spines of books as he read the titles, his other hand pushing his hair back over his shoulder.

“I’ve seen you sleeping.” He said nonchalantly, then stood up, turning to look at him. The smile that lightened his expression caused a soft sigh to escape Harry’s mouth. “You adapt everywhere. And, even before I knew you, you never asked anyone to do things for you that you could do for yourself.”

“Hm…” Harry hummed a little, then shrugged off his jacket, hanging it on a hook before stepping further out of the lobby. “You should tell that to Jesse. In her opinion, I might just need the maid.” He motioned to the dining room table, “And you said so yourself, I’m terrible at remembering to eat. Which is why I could benefit from a chef. Or at the very least a scheduled takeout service that actually comes out this far.” At that, Cisco’s amusem*nt turned into something Harry couldn’t decipher. He didn’t have the time to question it, however, because Ramon walked right up to him, looking Harry completely over.

“You’re like a dream…” Ramon whispered, eyes dancing, and he leaned up, slipping their lips warmly together. Harry wasn’t sure the previous conversation warranted such a reaction, but he closed his eyes, sighing into that kiss, reveling in the feel of Ramon’s tongue meeting his. He felt Ramon’s hand card through his hair, and Harry melted further into his mouth. When Ramon pulled away, he was smiling fondly. “Give me a tour?” He asked, glancing past Harry toward the house, eyes flicking back to his. “I want to see the view you told me about.”

The tour didn’t take long. He showed Ramon his office first, at the beginning of the hallway, with all the clutter that included a computer desk, a worktable, and wall-to-wall shelves. There was a storage room after that, a guest bedroom, and what used to be Jesse’s room. That hadn’t changed much since she’d left. She’d taken most of her things with her, but he kept the rest as it was in case she ever decided to stay overnight. There was a full guest bathroom, a laundry room, and a room that was completely empty except for a treadmill he barely touched. That room had been Tess’s hobby room, once upon a time. He’d never really found a use for it after she’d gone.

The last space he showed Ramon was the master bedroom and bathroom, which were still as sparse as they normally were, with shades of grays and blues. Ramon smiled a little when he stepped in, seeing something about the whole space that made him look content. Then his attention turned completely to the sliding glass doors and the yard beyond. He wandered over to it, peering out. Harry came up behind him, reaching around and opening the door. He motioned with one hand for Ramon to step out onto the deck.

“It’s better than I imagined.” Ramon said, walking all the way forward and pressing his hands to the railing as he looked across the yard, following the view down into the city beyond. Even in the daytime, it was just as humbling. Harry came up behind him, slipping his hands beneath Ramon’s arms, clasping them at his stomach. Cisco instantly leaned back into him, resting his head against Harry’s shoulder as he slipped his hand over both of Harry’s. “You’re better than I imagined.”

“How so?”

“All the interviews, the stories, the rumors… Harry, none of it does you any justice at all. And I also feel like maybe I understand you a little better now, after seeing all this.” He turned in Harry’s hold, resting his rear against the railing and grabbing Harry by the hips, pulling him close. He had to hold onto the railing to either side of him to keep both of their balances.

“What do you mean?”

“Your house… it’s really empty. And I don’t mean just because of the lack of stuff.” Harry’s brows furrowed lightly, feeling slightly confused. Ramon continued watching him. “I think that’s because you haven’t had anyone you trusted enough to share yourself with. So you’ve even left it empty of… presence.” Ramon nodded, almost to himself. “I saw how off you looked at first, when we came into the house.” Ramon smiled a little. “You’re not used to opening up your life to anyone, but I think you want to. I just wish I knew why you haven’t.”

“You’re right. I’m not used to it. I told you before I’m not very good with people, Ramon. And maybe I didn’t let anyone close enough to be able to share this with.” He looked past Ramon toward the city. “I think I forgot how to let myself.” He looked calmly back at him. “Until you showed up.”

“I wish I’d shown up sooner.” Cisco’s eyes danced over his. “I thought all of this might feel like a lot, but… it just feels like you.” He sighed softly, then leaned up and kissed Harry again. Harry didn’t even have a chance to entertain a reply. Though he had to admit, kissing Ramon was a much better alternative.

It didn’t take much encouragement for that kiss to deepen. In fact, the two of them were so in sync that the connection of their mouths seemed to make their bodies want to be just as close. In a way, Harry felt as though they’d been teetering on the edge of something that felt like infinity, just outside the vacuum of a black hole. They always seemed to change course just before time and space could consume them, deferring to their deals and their impending date. But as their tongues tasted and Ramon’s hands wandered, fingers slipping a little up beneath Harry’s t-shirt, touching warm skin, Harry wasn’t sure how long they’d be able to fight that gravity. And Harry had pressed completely forward, practically bending Cisco into the railing.

“O-okay,” Ramon pulled his mouth away, panting a little, “Jesus, Harry. You’re gonna make me useless.”

“Would that be so bad?” Harry took one steady step backward, but grabbed onto Ramon’s sweatshirt, pulling him away from the railing. And he kept going, moving by memory toward the door. Ramon was smiling languidly, lips slightly plumped from kissing. “We have several hours before the gala. Should give me plenty of time to make you… utterly useless.”

“What about the work you wanted to do, and our deal?” Ramon muttered, eyes roaming over Harry’s torso.

“You were right before. Work isn’t going anywhere. The financial sector can yell at me later. And I won’t break our deal… unless it’s what you want.” He continued over the threshold, and Cisco came easily with him. Harry only stopped long enough to close the sliding door, then gently pushed Ramon into it, claiming his mouth again. Ramon shivered instantly, hands pressing into Harry’s ribs. Harry kissed him as deeply as he could, memorizing the taste of his mouth and the feel of his body against his. He wished there had never been clothes in between them, mind running wild imagining how they’d feel skin to skin. It wasn’t till Ramon moaned softly that Harry slipped his mouth away, dragging his lips along Cisco’s jaw, down toward his throat, tasting the salt in the flesh over his pulse.

“What if I do want you to?” Ramon panted. “What if I need you to?” He asked, curling his hand into Harry’s hair, gripping.

“I can hold on to what willpower I have left. Can you?” Harry whispered near his ear before nuzzling at it. He inhaled the smell of the soap in Ramon’s skin and the salt beneath. Cisco’s breath came out heavy and shuddering.

“Not if you keep going.” He tugged a little on Harry’s hair, and he pulled back to look at him. Cisco’s pupils were blown wide with need, serious and dark. “Please, keep going.” He breathed out.

“You’re sure?” Harry whispered, unable to hide how much he wanted Cisco to be sure. “I told you before, I want to do this right, Ramon. It’s your choice.”

“It’s both of our choice.” Cisco smiled knowingly, “I think it’s time for a new deal.”

“We keep making these deals just to break them.” Harry reminded, then watched something mischievous come over Cisco’s expression, and he slipped his hand into his pocket, pulling something out.

“Then let’s ask this to decide for us.” He opened his fingers, revealing a small Magic 8-ball. Instantly, Harry rolled his eyes. He couldn’t quite help it.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He said gruffly, and Ramon chuckled. “No.”

“Oh, I’m dead serious. And yes.” He shook the 8-Ball, watching Harry every second. Harry crossed his arms over his chest, lifting his chin, refusing to put any real value into the validity of that toy. But the endless humor in Cisco’s eyes made him silent. “Hey, 8-ball… should Harry and I have sex?” Harry’s brows lifted, stunned at the very plain way Cisco had phrased that question. And Cisco only grinned at his expression. Then stopped his hand. They both looked down at the same time. The die in the blue ink floated to the surface with one single word.

‘Yes.’

They looked at each other instantly. And for a moment, Harry had no idea what to do. But then Cisco nodded, tossing the 8-ball onto the armchair in the corner, somehow managing to make it land in the crevice. And he kissed Harry softly, making his eyes flutter a little.

“Make me useless, Harry.” At that, both of Cisco’s hands came up to his face, cupping his cheeks, and his eyes held his demandingly. Harry dropped his arms. “I trust you. And I want this. I’ve wanted this since before that first phone call, long before the 8-ball ever had a say.”

“Cisco…” He whispered his first name, the sound of it just as much of a prayer as any word could be. It was the first time he’d ever said it out loud. And Cisco’s eyes lit up, and he let out a shaken breath.

“Don’t ask me if I’m sure, don’t ask if it’s too soon. I trust you more than I’ve ever trusted anyone. I want you. And I need you, Harry.” He whispered. But damn, if it wasn’t the loudest declaration Harry had ever heard. Harry inhaled slowly, struck by how very firm Ramon was with his words, his tone, his hands, his need. And he knew he meant it. What happened next felt like it had been a lifetime in the making as they finally both gave in to the absolute pull of their own personal black hole.

Cisco had been right about the emptiness in this house. But Harry suddenly felt like that had changed completely, and permanently. In a very short amount of time, Cisco Ramon had transformed nearly everything for Harrison Wells. For the better.

Harry wasn’t going to waste a single bit of space ever again.

Chapter 16: “I think that’s the new deal.”

Chapter Text

Stripping each other was the quick part.

Neither one of them wanted anything to stop them this time. No phones, no clothes, no deals. And Cisco’s hands couldn’t expose Harry fast enough. He was overjoyed Harry was on the same page. And they began it all so easily, practically in sync before they even made it to the bed. His shirt, then Harry’s. His pants, then Harry’s. And so on, until they were near the side of the bed and they were pressed flesh to flesh. He hadn’t imagined it would be this rhythmic or simple, this comfortable or this right. He thought he’d be more anxious, overwhelmed, maybe even afraid. But what he felt instead was… fearless and yearning.

Cisco finally had this man’s body in his hands, his skin beneath his palms, and it was better than any daydream he’d ever had. No amount of fantasizing or crushing had prepared him for how blissfully surreal this was turning out to be. And Cisco let himself give into it completely, letting the much better reality of Harrison Wells engulf him. Harry had both hands in his hair, continuously guiding him backward as they kissed till Cisco’s legs hit the side of the bed. He had no choice but to let him go as he went down on his rear with a whine when their mouths disconnected.

It left Harry towering over him, tall and intimidating. Ramon could practically feel the power he naturally radiated, as though he could fill a room by being in it and he knew it. He was definitely filling so much more than Cisco’s imagination just by staring at him like that. Harry had no idea what his eyes did to him, or how many times he’d thought about this. About seeing this man naked before him, ready to be touched, ready to be examined and memorized and felt beyond a voice on a phone or a get-off in pajamas. Cisco couldn’t think of a single reason why waiting this long had been a good idea. Because his own dick was a demanding thickness, and his body was practically shivering at the way Harry was looking at him. More than that, his heart was the calmest it had been in years.

No one knew about the things he'd done on the streets. The stealing and the compromising and the navigating life without backup. And no one knew about the dark corner where he'd sold himself just so he wouldn't starve. It had only been once, but it had been the worst thing to ever happen to him. It tainted intimacy for him for a long time. Deep down, he used to wonder if that was why all his relationships failed. That one mistake had cost him more than he could voice. There were things he needed and couldn't ask for. But when he met Brian, he thought maybe it would be different. He'd been right about that much. Brian Reed was now the worst thing to ever happen to him.

After Brian, everyone talked about the broken bones and how lucky Cisco was to be alive. And they looked at him with pity and spoke to him like they were afraid they’d break more than bones if they used the wrong words. Barry and Caitlin had been the most understanding, but even they couldn’t fully grasp that he was feeling broken somewhere deeper than bones could be.

No one warned him about the quiet that came after. The holding pattern made up of long nights and trying days where he searched for some semblance of normal after the crash and burn. No one told him about the undoing. How even his own shadow had looked like an enemy long after the bones and stitches had healed, and anything that looked or felt like pleasure was a thing to be feared. No one warned him that he’d feel like his sense of self and other things had been stolen from him, important things… irreplaceable things. No one told him the world would keep spinning dutifully regardless, leaving him completely behind. After a while, the sun forgot he existed. And the quiet became the normal he forced himself to live with.

He'd never needed anyone to save him before. Not when his parents had thrown him out and the streets tried to swallow him whole. Not when bullies who had nothing better to do thought it was fun to pick on the homeless gay kid. Not when he’d made his way to college entirely on his own. And he hadn’t looked for anyone to save him even after Brian. Eventually, he’d built himself back up enough that he could function in the quiet and play nice with his shadows. But he never lost the feeling that the things Brian had stolen from him were never coming back.

Until Harry.

The moment Harry had said yes to a date, he’d shoved Cisco’s shadows far away and pulled down the sun. Which sounded corny and overly romantic. But every moment since, Cisco had begun to feel more and more like the man he wanted to be before Brian had dug his claws in. And now that he was sitting there with Harry staring down at him like Harry was the unworthy one, he knew he had finally taken back everything that had ever been stolen from him.

There wasn’t a single deal on the planet that could make Cisco wait now. And he could tell Harry knew it. Harry’s eyes had grown darker somehow, his hands flexing empty at his sides as he looked Cisco over. He swore he could physically feel that stare. And Cisco decided it was a very good time to do his own looking.

Harry had a runner’s physique, tone and well taken care of, chest muscles tight, every breath making his stomach muscles tense. His arms were delightfully strong, connected to firm shoulders. Cisco followed a path down to his v-line, wandered over to his belly button and the strip of dark hair that marked the way to his very hard dick, and Cisco was reaching out to touch his shaft without a single thought beyond remembering what that had felt like once before.

The moment Cisco’s hand smoothed over his length, Harry let out a breath and closed his eyes, muscles in his jaw working lightly. Cisco slid his other hand over Harry’s hip, pulling him closer. There was no resistance. He moved willingly, and it made Cisco’s brain slow down. He felt Harry’s hand move to his hair, gently carding it away as Cisco nuzzled forward, breathing him in, pressing his lips against the soft, smooth skin of his shaft. He was warm and his dick twitched in reaction. Harry swayed a little, his other hand coming up to match the other. And Cisco sighed against him.

When Cisco was a willing participant, there wasn’t a time he hadn’t enjoyed this particular act. And every second about what was coming next was what he wanted to do. His mouth was practically watering at the idea of tasting him, of making him teeter and moan, of using his own talents to turn Harry into a bit of a mess, too.

He licked a line from the base of Harry’s shaft, up slowly, pressing into the vein there, feeling Harry’s fingers curl and tighten into his scalp right before Cisco’s mouth slid over the head of him. sh*t, he was smooth and so heated. And he could taste the saltiness of him as he bobbed down. He closed his eyes, sighing around him, moving both hands to grip Harry’s hips, fingers curled into his rear as he tasted him over and over.

The way Harry held onto his hair was exhilarating, not once taking control but oh-so-f*cking firm, and causing little electric bursts to flow down his spine. He could feel Harry’s thighs tighten as he tried not to rut into him. And it encouraged Cisco on. He loved that Harry wasn’t leading this dance. And he loved that Harry had to fight not to. He heard him moan when the head of him hit the back of Cisco’s throat. Once, twice, three times. Cisco thought maybe he could do that forever. But he knew very quickly that he’d brought Harry much closer to the edge than he’d anticipated. It was glorious, really.

“f*ck, Ramon.” Harry sounded wound impossibly tight, and only then did he grip Cisco’s hair harder, pulling him back. He could have been rougher about it, but Harry’s hands were steady and patient in a way Cisco wasn’t sure he’d felt before. At least never in this context. And it made his own dick twitch instantly. He let Harry’s length go with one last lick to his softly swollen head. “That was dangerous.” Harry breathed out, gripping Cisco’s chin to tilt his face up. And when their eyes met, Harry’s looked like cold fire again. It made Cisco’s heart pick up speed. “I want more time than that.” Harry dropped his hands and began to crawl over him. “I told you on the phone what I wanted to do to you.” Cisco had to push himself back to accommodate Harry’s long form, legs open to let him settle. Harry planted a hand firmly to his chest, pushing him down into the mattress. “Now let me show you.”

“Please, yes…” Cisco muttered, and instantly his head went back as Harry hovered over him and dragged their dicks together. “Please.” Harry didn’t need to be told again. He started by kissing Cisco so deeply, he could taste what even a little of Harry’s power felt like. It was a genius move, because Cisco was no longer capable of thinking. He couldn’t stop himself from touching Harry, either.

Harry’s body was heat and softness, angles and muscle, and he was pliable beneath Cisco’s fingers. He massaged in sweeps, down to one of Harry’s warm ass cheeks, his other roaming over his back, inspecting a peculiar patch of skin. It felt grooved, strangely soft. But then Harry broke the kiss and began to move those damn delicious lips of his down Cisco’s throat, toward where his neck met his collarbone, and he sucked the spot there, speeding up Cisco’s breathing again and making his mind clear. Harry reached for Cisco’s hands, one at a time, and he pulled them away, pinning his wrists down above his head and rising again to look at him. And holy sh*t, did that do things to him. He was sure it was written all over his face, just how much he was at Harry’s mercy…

“Patience.” He whispered a little roughly, and it took everything Cisco had not to whine pathetically.

Harry took pity on him by spending a lot more time tasting and touching Cisco’s body. He could tell what Harry was doing, methodically memorizing the places that made Cisco squirm, the ones that made him breathe harder, the ones that made him grip the blankets. He lingered on scars and freckles. He softened at any hard edges. He was dutiful, at times agonizingly slow, and had Cisco so hard and throbbing by the time Harry got to his dick that he wasn’t sure he could hold on much longer.

He hadn’t realized it the entire time, but Harry was winding him up into such a stimulated state that when Harry finally softly licked the slit at the aching head of Cisco’s dick, he couldn’t control what his body did. It felt like Harry had found a secret Cisco hadn’t even known he was hiding, because his back arched and he moaned lightly at the motivating feel.

Even without looking, he knew Harry smiled just before his mouth slid around his girth. He was wet and warm, and he went deep with that same patience he’d marked all his explorations with. He slipped to the side without losing momentum, one hand spreading Cisco’s legs easily apart. Then he smoothed his hand down his thigh, further down, beneath Cisco’s balls, stroking at his perineum as he tasted and bobbed over Cisco’s dick.

Cisco’s hands instantly went into his own hair, the new stimulation both soothing and encouraging which didn’t seem possible but was absolutely real. He wasn’t entirely sure how many seconds passed. Or was it minutes? Maybe hours? How about an eternity? And the whole time, Cisco was completely under Harry’s control and happy for it. It took the feel of Harry’s fingers moving to his hole to make him come back to his senses, not that they were any good to him anymore.

This was the part he’d thought he might dread the most. After all this time, with Brian being the last to touch him there, to use him there… Cisco had thought maybe he might not be able to give in to this. But he had been entirely wrong because… Harry massaged him gently. There wasn’t a bit of roughness to it. It was enough to make Cisco’s breathing level out. The unreal feeling of Harry’s fingers and mouth working in tandem was a serious revelation for him.

Brian had been far greedier, especially after learning about Cisco’s need to sometimes have it rough. Every time after, Brian ended up wanting Cisco there and ready on his terms, no matter how it might feel for Cisco. But not Harry. He was bringing him there tenderly, f*cking brilliantly. Not rushing, which Cisco was nearly emotional about. Was this how it was supposed to be? f*ck, he’d been so wrong. And Cisco wasn’t sure he knew what to do with himself anymore as time carried on.

A moment later, Harry pulled off, then smoothed his hand back up, grabbing Cisco’s shaft and pumping. Their eyes met, but neither of them said anything. He almost regretted that he hadn’t when Harry slipped away, watching as he turned to his other side and reached out for the bedside table. He should have said everything he’d been thinking. He should have told Harry just how far he was falling. But instead, he watched him move.

Cisco couldn’t stop himself from touching him again, sliding his fingers down Harry’s spine, still reveling in the fact he could touch him like this at all. There was a peculiar scar there on his back, below his ribs, close to his spine and about the size of a softball that narrowed into a point at one end and looked like the flesh had been pulled back together in another. It was ragged, obviously something that had to have been beyond painful. Cisco’s fingers lingered there like they had before. When Harry turned back, he had a bottle of lube in his hand, and he sat up, looking at him.

“What happened to your back?” Cisco asked, moving his hand over Harry’s thigh, then straight to his dick. He touched the tip of him, sliding his thumb through the precum. Harry closed his eyes comfortably, letting a breath out through his nostrils as Cisco gripped him and pumped lazily.

“Three years ago, when we first began to do the upgrades on the accelerator, during the construction…” he said, heavily blinking his eyes open. “There was an accident. A generator was overloaded, blew some of the framework.” He slipped out of Cisco’s hold, moving in between his legs. He knelt there, sitting on his feet, spreading Cisco’s thighs a little wider with one hand. Anticipation began to move into the places the anxiety would have been, once upon a time. He wasn’t afraid of this in the least. He wanted it, wanted Harry. And Cisco rested his feet comfortably into the mattress, eyes darting to the bottle in Harry’s hand. “Ask me later. I’ll tell you all about it.” He popped the cap on the bottle. “But right now, we’re hardly done.” Then he upended some of the clear substance onto Cisco’s dick. He let out a short breath as the chill of it rolled down. Harry dragged his fingers through it, gripping him for a few slick pumps, then slid his fingers back to Cisco’s perineum.

“I just realized we haven’t talked abo- oh,” Cisco’s eyes fluttered instantly the moment two of Harry’s fingers pressed lightly against his hole. He’d always been more sensitive there than most, he'd come to find out.

“Hm?” Harry questioned, “What was that?” His fingers began moving in a slow, circular motion at the rim of him, just enough slickness and pressure to make Cisco’s legs relax further.

“Condoms. We haven’t talked about condoms.” He managed, blinking at Harry. He was smirking a little as he glanced at him, eyes so goddamn confident and bright, even possessive. “I-“ Cisco swallowed, “I have one in my wallet, I think. But it’s old.” He curled his hands into the blankets, just enough to feel something tangible in his hold. “I didn’t think to buy new ones.”

“Did you want me to use one?” Harry questioned, and Cisco felt the tip of one of his fingers push in about an inch. Instantly, Cisco panted out. “I promise you, I’m clean.”

“So am I.” Cisco nodded a little hastily against the bed. He was concentrating on the tantalizing feel of Harry’s finger starting to work its way in and out, going deeper with each pass, so steady and comfortable. It shouldn’t surprise him anymore how tenderly Harry was treating him. Not like a thing to be used, but as though Cisco’s pleasure was as important, if not more so, than Harry’s.

“I’ll be honest with you, Ramon… I’d love to feel you without one. But the choice is yours.” His finger kept its rhythm as he spoke, and he poured some more lube. It was about then Cisco realized Harry’s finger was fully sheathed inside of him. Holy sh*t. “I will never do anything you don’t want.” He met Harry’s gaze and saw nothing but sincerity. If Cisco was being honest, his trust in Harry was already more than absolute. And he’d love to feel Harry’s dick inside him without any barrier in the way. He wanted to replace everything else he’d ever known with that feeling.

“No condom.” He said, and that cold fire in Harry’s eyes flickered. “I’m sure.” He added quickly. And Harry chuckled a little before he built the rhythm of his finger a little more, slick and steady.

“Close your eyes. Relax for me, Ramon.” Harry offered warmly. Cisco didn’t hesitate, completely trusting, completely ready for this. A moment later, he felt the tip of another finger join the first. It stretched a little, and Harry went back to being slow. His patience was endless. And it worked in both of their favors, Harry able to get him from one to two fingers without any discomfort or ache. That didn’t mean Cisco wasn’t feeling the pressure or the need behind the attention. He did everything he could to stay relaxed, to let Harry do the work. And as Harry spread his fingers inside him, he couldn’t stop the moan that pushed its way out of his throat.

“That’s it, beautiful, you’re doing so well…” Harry spoke, his voice thick enough that Cisco had to look at him. There was that word again, spoken like a term of endearment, hitting Cisco right at his core with that feeling of falling again. Harry was completely focused on Cisco’s body, like he was a discovery, something no one had seen or heard before. And he’d set the bottle aside, reaching out to grab Cisco’s shaft. The moan he made this time was unabashedly loud. And it made Harry’s eyes close momentarily, rolling a shoulder like he’d felt a shiver run up his spine.

“Mm, don’t fight it.” Harry half-whispered. “I want to hear you.” Cisco felt the third finger go in with the other two and curl in. He instantly arched. His insides lit up with unspeakable stimulation. If Harry was this good with just his hands, he could hardly fathom what his dick could do. “You’re so sultry and tight just around my fingers, I can only imagine how you’d feel around something better, Ramon. Tell me when you’re ready.” He nearly ordered, and Cisco nodded, hands letting go of the blankets. Had it been anyone else, Cisco knew he’d never respond like this. But this was Harry. And how the hell was Cisco supposed to argue with those words in that rough and intoxicating voice?

“I’m ready, Harry,” he grit his teeth a little, “sh*t, I want to feel you inside me so badly, it’s all I can think about.” Harry pulsed his fingers in and out of him a little quicker than before, pumping Cisco’s dick with the same rhythm, three-four-five times, curling his digits one more time before his hands came away completely, leaving Cisco nearly on the edge of hyperventilating. Harry poured more lube on Cisco’s hole, rubbing some into him without putting his fingers back in. Then he poured some onto himself, getting his shaft good and slick. “Harry…” he whispered, reaching for him. And Harry came to him without question, tossing the bottle aside, planting his hands into the mattress to either side of Cisco’s shoulders, sliding their dicks against each other.

He kissed him, tongue diving in all demanding, and Cisco nearly lost any further ability to think as Harry shifted his hips, maneuvering his shaft down, the tip of Harry’s dick pressed into his hole. He moaned into his mouth, and Harry pulled his lips away, pressing his forehead into the side of Cisco’s, controlling his breathing.

“So perfect.” Harry whispered, “I’ve wanted this so f*cking badly, I’ve wanted you…”

“We never should have waited.” Cisco whispered back as he gripped at his shoulders, feeling a slight burn, a building pressure as Harry’s hips inched forward. Harry didn’t shove himself in, he didn’t just take what he wanted. He took his time, breathing against him, letting Cisco’s fingers dig hard into his muscles as, bit by bit, he slipped inside. “Oh, f*ck, oh god…” Cisco moaned lightly.

“Not god,” Harry’s lips moved against the side of his chin, breath hot and a little labored. “Just us.”

At first, it wasn’t all of Harry inside of him. He slid himself in and out with shallow back and forth movements, so goddamn controlled. They were both breathing like they were only now figuring out what breathing actually was, and Cisco lifted his lower legs off the bed completely, bent at the knees, spreading his thighs a little wider, moaning as just that much made Harry go deeper. Harry’s eyes squeezed tight, and he lifted his head, gritting his teeth.

“So warm.” Harry whispered, “f*ck, you’re warm.”

“Please, Harry, please!” He didn’t even know what he was begging for. He just wanted him. All of him. And Harry pushed further in, deeper and deeper until he was fully sheathed. The result was Cisco’s whole body lighting up without a single explanation that would make rational sense. Harry stayed where he was now, still and firm and waiting. Not a bit of him shook. Not a thing in him wavered. Cisco’s hands released from his shoulders, gliding down Harry’s sides, over his rear.

He could feel the dampness on both their bodies, the soft sheen of sweat marking the sensations they both were feeling. But not once did Harry move. He was letting Cisco get used to his length and width, helping him relax into it. His strong body was perfectly still, balanced above him. And Cisco turned his head and kissed him. He needed to. It was imperative. Never had anyone been so goddamn considerate, or so relentlessly perfect. And he wanted Harry to feel what that meant to him. When their mouths separated, Harry searched his gaze, and Cisco nodded once.

Slowly, finally, Harry moved.

Oh, f*ck, did he move. The thrusts were still shallow at first, but then Harry found a rhythm that separated and connected their groins over and over again. The feel of their flesh colliding, of Harry dragging in and out in succession, had no accurate description. And Cisco spent his time relaxing into the thrusts, hands roaming Harry’s sensational form.

Time went on without them. They each wanted this to last, it seemed. And Cisco was sure, if he could get away with it, he’d never ask Harry to stop. There was no trace of his mistakes or Brian left in Cisco’s mind, or on his body. All of that belonged to Harry, now.

They switched positions a few times. Once to have Cisco on top of Harry, feeling his muscles burn as he rode his lover’s dick. Harry took the excuse to trace his flesh with both hands, to thumb at his nipples, to pump at his dick with each sway of his hips, to stare at him with those intoxicating eyes. Cisco burned the image of Harry beneath him into his brain. He never wanted to forget what it felt like, to be seen as something other than a thing or a problem. If he’d had a voice to use in that moment, he might have told Harry he loved him. But his tongue was useless, and his brain was fogged by the overwhelming pleasure in his body. And he used that as an excuse not to say anything at all.

After a time, they switched positions again, so Cisco was on his hands and knees with Harry taking him from behind. That angle was so deep that Cisco felt the gripping pleasure in his groin grow tenfold. Harry was in the perfect position and was the perfect length to hit his prostate over and over, and he knew he wasn’t going to last much longer. From the way Harry was driving into him, he had a feeling Harry couldn’t, either. Harry gripped one of Cisco’s hips hard, then pressed his other palm in between Cisco’s shoulders, pushing his upper body into the bed. Cisco’s elbows gave out and he turned his face to the side, moaning raggedly as the angle sharpened and Harry thrust deep enough to make them both see stars.

In just a few thrusts, Cisco felt his groin nearly strangle the life out of him before finally releasing him from the built-up pressure. He came into the bed with a cry of utter pleasure, his org*sm strong and flooding him with a satisfying relief. Harry rode Cisco through it without pause, then thrust a few more times, coming right after. Harry groaned out raggedly, hands gripped tightly to Cisco’s hips. He could feel the pulsing of Harry’s groin, the twitching of his dick. And Cisco wished he could have seen Harry’s face as he spent himself. He made a mental note to make sure that definitely happened next time. Because there was no way there wouldn’t be a next time. Cisco considered himself addicted, right then and there.

The high came down very slowly. Harry’s hands softened on him, helping Cisco lower his bottom half completely into the mattress. Cisco stretched his legs out, uncaring that the covers felt damp against his skin. He felt Harry settle against him, his lips moving up Cisco’s shoulder, then to his neck, then to his cheek without pulling himself out of him.

Harry pressed his forehead into Cisco’s temple as he relaxed, skin to skin, and they both stayed that way, breathing quietly, enjoying the closeness. After Harry had shrunk considerably, he finally slipped out and moved to Cisco’s side. He sighed at the loss and blinked his eyes open. Harry was face to face with him, watching him quietly. And Cisco smiled at the sight. He looked so content. Even… peaceful. And Cisco inched closer, kissing him languidly.

“That was…” Cisco sighed out, “Way better than a phone call or a hand job.” Harry chuckled easily and Cisco grinned.

“I thought I was the blunt one.” Harry chastised, smoothing his hand up and down Cisco’s spine as Cisco lifted a hand to his face. He traced the laugh lines around his eyes, down the sharp angle of his jaw, over to his mouth. “What’s that look for?” He asked quietly. And Cisco sighed heavily, scooting onto his side and getting as close to Harry as he could. He slipped one of his legs between both of Harry’s, and Harry wrapped his arms around him, still face to face.

“I want to tell you something.”

“Okay.” Harry focused completely on him, expression growing a bit serious. “I’m all ears.” Cisco chuckled a little, running a hand up and down his back, pausing when he felt the scar again.

“First, tell me how you got the scar.” He said, “It looks like it was painful.”

“It was.” Harry agreed. “It happened during the accelerator upgrades. I was in the pipeline with the main engineering team working on the generators in Access 7 when the alarms went off. I remember yelling at everyone to evacuate, ushering people out, trying to get the area sealed before the generator blew. But I wasn’t fast enough. The next thing I knew, I was face down on a grate about fifteen feet from where I started.”

“Wait, I remember that. I read all about it. It happened the same day I ended up in the hospital.”

“You were in the hospital?” Harry questioned immediately. Cisco looked away for a second, then shrugged in his hold. He knew he needed to tell Harry about that. But not yet. Not now.

“It wasn’t a big deal.” He deflected, “But the accelerator… we were reworking blueprints for a month. Was that the hiatus you took after the construction setback?”

“Yes. Or at least that’s how it was played out to the press. Though, it wasn’t just a setback for the upgrades. When it happened I, uh…” he cleared his throat a little, “I knew I was in trouble. The sort I might not come back from. I can’t really explain the feeling. Something wasn’t right. Between the pain and the knowing…” He looked back at Cisco’s gaze. “I thought I was going to die. A piece of metal debris had been impaled in my back. I was lucky because it managed not to hit any major organs or my spine, but it tore through a major blood vessel and fractured two vertebrae. The swelling compressed my spinal cord, and from what they told me… the blood loss caused my heart to stop on the table.”

“sh*t. How did no one know about that?”

“The people who work in public affairs are very good at keeping secrets when I cooperate.” He chuckled a little.

“You… you made a full recovery, right?” Cisco asked, subdued by the story, none of that anything he had expected. Harry nodded once.

“Three surgeries and six months of physical therapy later, yes and no. It still aches from time to time, I still have bad days. If I sit too long or turn the wrong way, and especially if I overdo it. But exercise helps with that.” It seemed like Harry didn't like to think about it, and Cisco had a feeling he was downplaying how bad it was. But then Harry slid his hand in between them, pressing into Cisco’s ribs momentarily, to a three-inch scar about the width of a pencil. Harry knew Cisco’s body so well that he knew exactly where it was after one discovery. Then he brought his hand up to Cisco’s hairline, touching the white slit of a scar that disappeared in the darkness of his hair. “How did these happen?” Cisco exhaled slowly, swallowing slightly. Harry had just told him his story, so he should be able to tell him this one. But… he couldn’t. Not like this. He didn’t want any part of this tainted by what had caused those scars.

“I want to tell you. I do.” He said softly. “And I will, I promise. But not now.” Harry blinked, then smoothed Cisco’s hair away, stroking his long fingers through the parting strands.

“Later, then.” He accepted easily. And Cisco kissed him lightly for it. “What did you want to tell me?” Harry asked when their lips separated.

“I know that we already accidentally told each other that we’re in love. But if I said I love you, for all this, for what you’ve been to me this week, for how safe I feel with you, for what I think you want to continue to be… with me…” His voice trailed off when he saw a softhearted smile appear on Harry’s face.

“I love you, too.” Harry half-whispered. And Cisco was smiling back instantly.

“Just like that? It’s not too soon?”

“Yes. And no.” Harry answered both questions. Cisco chuckled, then pushed Harry flat on his back, getting half on top of him before kissing him. Harry’s arms wrapped around him and he returned that kiss without any hesitation. Cisco settled completely against him when it ended.

“Something else I have to tell you,” Cisco rested his arms across Harry’s chest, watching as Harry tucked a pillow beneath his own head. He could feel a subtle ache brewing in certain places, no doubt due to the fact he hadn’t sex in so long. But it was so worth it. “You without clothes is way better than you with clothes. Which is saying something, cause you with clothes has always been pretty hot.” Harry paused, then dropped his hands to Cisco’s lower back, smoothing one softly over one butt cheek. Cisco rested his chin on his forearms, nearly grinning at the patiently amused look Harry had. “Don’t look so surprised, Harry. You’ve got this whole tall, dark, and handsome silver fox thing going on.”

“First of all, I don’t have silver hair yet.” Harry narrowed his gaze. “How old do you think I am?” Cisco squinted.

“How old do you think I am?” Cisco threw Harry’s question back at him.

“Thirty.” Harry said easily. And Cisco’s brows went up.

“You looked up my birthday, didn’t you.”

“And you didn’t look up mine.”

“Yes, I did. You’re forty-eight.” He said seriously, and Harry’s eyes went soft.

“And that doesn’t bother you.” It hadn’t been said as one, but Cisco thought there might be a question in there.

“Not even a little.” He nodded. “Does it bother you? The age difference?”

“No.” He slipped one hand completely up the length of Cisco’s spine, beneath his hair, stopping at his neck and behind his head. “That being said, I don’t want you to think I wanted you… or this… because you’re younger. I’d have found you beautiful if we were the same age or older, Ramon.” He took a deep breath, releasing the air slowly. “I’ve never been with anyone like you.”

“You mean anyone younger?” He smirked slyly. And Harry smacked his ass softly, making him chuckle.

“That, too. If I’m being honest, your age never crossed my mind. Until your silver fox comment.” He smoothed his fingers over the spot he’d smacked. “You’re a first for me in a lot of things.”

“What things? I’m hardly the first person you’ve been with, obviously. You’re far too talented for that. And you’ve got a kid.” Cisco closed his eyes with a content smile, focusing on the gentle caress of Harry’s hand on his rear.

“You make it seem like I’ve got a hundred notches on my belt.” Harry said flatly. Cisco snorted lightly. “There’s only been nine.” His fingers began making slow circles on Cisco’s rear. “Including you.” He opened his eyes, catching Harry’s lazy gaze. And he blinked, feeling a bit stunned by that, processing that information quietly. It wasn’t that he thought Harry was the overly promiscuous sort. But he was a damn good-looking man, with a brilliant mind and a powerful heart. It hadn’t occurred to Cisco that Harry might not have shared himself with more people. Though it did very quickly occur to Cisco that he’d been a bit more promiscuous than Harry in comparison. “Does that surprise you?”

“Not surprise, no. Maybe I’m a little disappointed in myself. I’ve been with thirteen before you, though only three of those were serious.” He looked down at Harry’s throat, watching the vein calmly pulse. “Which… I guess makes me easier than you considering the percentage in the amount of time.” He furrowed his brows a little. Harry’s fingers stopped.

“Ramon...” He didn’t move his fingers again till Cisco’s eyes moved back to his. “If you’re worried about judgment, you’ll get none from me. Too many people put conservative views on something that’s natural. The amount of people you’ve had sex with isn’t indicative of your ability to have meaningful relationships.”

“That’s… no, it’s not that. I don’t want you to think-“

“I don’t think I’m a notch on your belt, Ramon.” Harry interrupted. And Cisco felt relief spread through every limb and down to every digit.

“Harry… what if I told you…” Cisco swallowed a little, trying to keep his tone level, “That I don’t want that number to go up anymore?” Harry’s brows tightened lightly, eyes dancing over his. “What if I said I want my last meaningful relationship to be with you?”

“Then I’d say… let me answer your previous question.”

“What?”

“I told you that you’re a first for me in a lot of things. You asked what those things were. Let me tell you.” He voiced, and Cisco nodded once.

“O-okay…” He whispered, unable to look away from Harry’s sapphire hues. Harry’s hand moved around him, grabbing him by the ribs and easily maneuvering him onto his back, effectively switching places. Harry was leaning on his side, and cupped Cisco’s cheek warmly before pressing their mouths together. He closed his eyes, wrapping his arms around Harry comfortably. When Harry pulled away, it wasn’t far, his fingers tracing a line down Cisco’s face, falling to his throat, lingering at his pulse as he softly nuzzled their noses together.

“You make me curious. About life beyond my self-imposed bubble. You made me question why I’d let myself languish in my own misery for so long. The only answer I could come up with was that… fate was waiting for us to collide. And, just so you understand, I’ve never believed in fate before, Ramon. I believe in action and consequence, choice and behavior, fact and quantifiable truths. But since you, now I think fate is a name for something I can’t control. And… I couldn’t have stopped myself from falling in love with you, even if I’d tried.” He sighed lightly, continuing.

“That is all a long-winded way of saying that I have never fallen in love with anyone like this, Cisco.” He whispered, “With such need, such intensity. I knew all those months ago when you ran into me that I was yours. I may not have understood it or had a name for it yet. But that one moment was all it took. I’d never had anyone capture me so effectively or permanently.”

“What about your wife?” Cisco whispered back, then squeezed his eyes shut. He shouldn’t have even mentioned it. But Harry’s lips brushed over his again.

“What I felt for her didn’t happen like this.” He lifted his head, moving his fingers lower, circling the spot he’d sucked into his collarbone earlier. Cisco blinked heavily, looking at him. “My connection with Tess was slower, born of convenience and circ*mstance. We both knew that. We understood and respected each other, we were comfortable with one another, we relied on each other. And we knew we both prioritized work over nearly everything else. Including what everyone else considered a normal progression of a relationship. We simply decided that being busy together was better than being busy alone.”

“But Jesse-“

“Was an accident.” Harry’s smile was small and warm. “A wonderful, perfect, life changing accident that I will never regret. But we’d never planned on having children.” He lowered his eyes to follow the path his fingers continued to make. “I was focused on the labs, and Tess was focused on climbing the ladder at the university. Raising a child in between all that wasn’t what either of us wanted. But when Jesse came along, I couldn’t imagine life any other way.” He slowly lifted his gaze back to Cisco’s.

“I loved my wife, I truly did. And I’m sure she loved me once. But I don’t think either of us can claim we’d ever been ‘in love’ with each other.” His hand stopped, warm and large over Cisco’s stomach. “I am completely and immutably in love with you, Cisco. I don’t believe in things like god and miracles. But I feel this in what I can only assume is my soul. I think part of me has been searching for this kind of connection my entire life. And I never had it, before you. Which makes you my first in that much.” Harry’s eyes dropped again, focusing on something between them. But Cisco was too focused on the sound of his own heartbeat in his ears.

“We’ve been questioning from the start how fast this has all moved. How quickly we’ve connected. How hard we’ve fallen.” Harry shook his head softly. “Rationally, it makes no logical sense. And all I knew for certain before was how much I needed to proceed the right way so I could try to make it into something that lasts. Not because I wanted it with just anyone,” He finally looked back at him, “But because I want it with you. I had decided long before you upended my world that I was always going to be alone. You made me want to be wrong. I still want to be wrong. And that’s a first for me, too. So, when you say you don’t want your number to go up… that you want me to be your last meaningful relationship… you need to know I want the same damn thing.”

“I don’t… I don’t feel like I deserve that.” Cisco admitted, eyes burning a little. And he closed them, tightening his hold on Harry like he was afraid this was all some sort of dream and Harry might just disappear. “I’m not good at this, Harry. Every time I thought I had things figured out, that maybe I was getting the whole relationship thing right, it blew up in my face.” He opened his eyes to see Harry looking at his forehead. At the scar. “I should tell you-“

“No,” Harry shook his head, catching his stare. “Not until you’re ready. You don’t owe me explanations. You don’t owe me your pain. I’ll never demand that from you. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. I’m not an expert on relationships, either. But I know that much.” That made the burning in his eyes turn right into tears. sh*t. What would Harry think, laying there naked with him after mind blowing sex, just for him to start crying? Harry pushed up a bit, staring down at him, hand sweeping over the trail of wetness before he slipped onto his side and pulled Cisco fully into his arms. “Tell me about what you’re working on.”

“What?” Cisco’s brows furrowed, and he swallowed against a shaken breath, admittedly confused. How was that a natural change of subject?

“Your current project. Assume I don’t know anything about it. Tell me what you’re doing at the labs.”

“I’m-“ He paused, slight exasperation pushing from his throat as he forced his mind to switch gears. “Last year, we were tasked with the design and creation of a series of theoretical physics devices, using the information and test results we’ve garnered from use of the particle accelerator. The latest has been a quark sphere, a device that can potentially siphon and harness hexaquark.”

“Dark matter.”

“Yeah, we’ve hypothesized that if we can stabilize the runoff of dark matter, like what could potentially be produced by the accelerator, we can create reusable and mobile diversion cells or… quark spheres… to study and transport the matter without any chance of, well…”

“Catastrophic explosions?” Harry mused, and Cisco smiled a little.

“Right. Though it’s all theory. Like most of what we’ve done since the Particle Accelerator Expansion Initiative. We have a lot of data we’ve never seen before, which opened the door to about a million theories we want to test without, ya know… blowing up the city or creating black holes. It’s all a lot of postulation.”

“What if I told you it isn’t?” Harry said softly, but there was a lilt to his voice, a quiet excitement that Cisco picked up on immediately. “What if I said that some of the theories you’ve been working on aren’t just theories?”

“Wait,” Cisco pulled back to look at him, and Harry stared at him as though he was quite literally holding the answers to the universe right in his hand, waiting for Cisco to take them all. “Wait!” Cisco sat up excitedly and Harry smiled, pushing up on his elbows. “What are you telling me right now?!”

“You’re building the quark sphere for a reason.” He sat up the rest of the way, searching Cisco’s gaze. “You know how clearance works at the labs, so you can’t tell anyone what I’m about to tell you, Ramon.” He reached out and gripped his knee, “And I know you won’t. I trust you.” He nodded, scooting a little closer. “We’ve found proof that the accelerator is producing dark matter in stable, predictive bursts. So far, it’s been collecting in the pipeline, siphoned into fabricated gravitational fields in unused energy cells. But without a stabilizer or a proper container to compress it, it harmlessly dissipates on its own before we can effectively collect usable data.”

“Oh my god, that’s why we’re working on the quark sphere. A proper container!” Cisco grinned, fighting the urge to bounce in place. “Harry, that’s insane!” He laughed, reaching out and grabbing Harry by the arm. “If we can isolate dark matter like that, do you have any idea the potential breakthroughs we could have?!” His brows went up right after he said it, then he chuckled sheepishly, “I mean of course you do, y-“ Harry surged forward and kissed him, effectively cutting him off, and Cisco found himself laughing into that kiss, even squeaking a little as Harry grabbed him and flipped him onto his back. Then they laid there, smiling at each other. “That was sneaky.”

“But it worked.”

“Yes it did.” Cisco couldn’t stop smiling. “You’re incredible.”

“Hardly. I am, however, fully invested, Ramon. In all of this. I don’t care about how many people you’ve been with, your past isn’t mine to judge. And I think your future is beyond promising. It’s not too soon for me, and I’m not going to run if things get complicated or difficult. I’m in love with you. You’re in love with me. You said so yourself.” He said pointedly and Cisco chuckled. “If it’s what you want, I’d happily be stuck with you.” He lifted his fingers to Cisco’s scar, smoothing his fingertips into his hair. “Old scars and all.”

“Happily stuck…” Cisco said softly, “I think that’s the new deal.”

All of this was fast, in the grand scheme of things. And Cisco knew that. Hell, Harry obviously knew that. But they also both knew that there was a reason they’d found each other. Maybe it was fate. Maybe it was the cup of coffee Cisco had spilled on him seven months ago. Maybe it was a magazine article with Harry’s picture on it that had given him some comfort in what could have been his final moments. Maybe it was just two souls finally figuring themselves out. Whatever the reason, they were together. They wanted this. And the love they felt, no matter how quickly it had grown, was real.

Cisco thought about the checklists he and Barry and Caitlin had made in college, each of them setting up their grand future plans. And he was elated to know it was finally time to check off the next box on his own list.

‘Meet the love of my life.’

And to think it was all thanks to an 8-ball.

Cisco couldn’t be more grateful if he tried.

Chapter 17: "Tell me everything."

Chapter Text

At some point, they’d managed to extricate themselves from each other and clean up. Eventually, they would both have to shower and get ready for the gala, but Ramon seemed very content to just wander around in nothing but a button-up shirt that he’d plucked out of Harry’s closet. It was black with crisply ironed lines and barely left anything to the imagination, which was entirely unfair and extremely welcome. Harry would not be asking him to get dressed any time soon. Besides, Harry was only wearing his jeans.

He gathered up the clothes they’d shed, the soiled covers, and took them all to the laundry, dropping them in a basket to be worried about later. When he came out, he found Ramon had wandered to the open concept area of the house, and he had stopped in front one of the tall wooden beams to examine the framed photos. He looked relaxed, his hair slightly tangled as though he’d tried to run his fingers through it and barely made a dent in the chaos they’d made out of it. His hands were up in front of him, casually rolling something back and forth from palm to palm. And his beautifully dark eyes seemed entirely focused on what was before him.

Harry leaned into the wall where the hallway ended, crossing his arms lazily as he watched him begin to make his slow way around the pole. Cisco’s eyes never changed course, as though he were trying to memorize every inch of those photos. They were mostly of Jesse. Some were of Harry. Cisco stopped at the only photo left up of Tess. In the picture, Jesse was a newborn, swaddled and peering wide eyed at a softly smiling version of her mother that Harry rarely ever saw again.

“She called me the other day.” Harry said quietly, but his voice carried well in the open space. “She calls every year around this time.” Cisco looked over at him, his hands stilling. “To ask about Jesse. The conversation always goes the same. I tell her to talk to Jesse herself. She never does. And the wheel goes round.” He pushed off the wall, dropping his arms. He could feel the coolness of the floor beneath his bare feet as he stopped beside Cisco, looking at the picture. “This time was different.” His brows tightened and he slipped his hand around Ramon’s hip. “She’s moving back to Central City. She wants to see Jesse and me in person.”

“Wow, that’s…” Cisco said, then slipped his arm around Harry’s lower back, his other hand rolling what Harry now could see was the 8-ball. “What did you tell her?”

“I said… I’d call her Sunday.” He clenched his jaw a little. “Jesse wants nothing to do with her. And I shouldn’t, either. But it’s complicated.” He shook his head, looking down at him. “Jesse sees her mother through a lens of abandonment, even knowing the reasons why she left. And I am simultaneously guilt ridden and angry, even after all this time.”

“Guilt ridden? What for?”

“I couldn’t help her. I was supposed to.” He looked back at the photo, motioning with one hand. “I didn’t see the signs until it was too late, and by then we were both in over our heads. Getting her past it was difficult. Painfully so. For each of us in different ways. She couldn’t be a mother, and I was trying to be a father while also trying to focus on the labs. And when she finally decided to leave, I think… I let her go because I knew it would be easier for all of us. Somewhere along the way, I stopped fighting for her. And that shame belongs only to me. It was never the sort of husband I wanted to be.” Harry’s gaze lowered to the floor. “I failed her by letting her go as much as she failed us by leaving.”

“Harry,” Cisco stepped in between him and the beam, he tucked the 8-ball into Harry’s pocket, then grabbed his hip, eyes riddled with what Harry could only describe as compassion. “I can’t even begin to understand what you both went through, and I won’t lessen the impact of it all by pretending that I do. But… you both did what you thought was right. You each made the choices you made to protect your daughter. There’s no right or wrong here. No blame to go around. It was an impossible situation that had no easy solutions. You can’t be guilty or angry about loving your daughter more than anyone else.” He lifted a hand and gripped the back of Harry’s neck.

“And you do, Harry. Both of you do. That’s what it sounds like to me. Even not knowing the whole story, I think you both loved Jesse enough that you made hard calls to ensure she would be able to grow up happy and safe. I think that’s still true for both of you.” He let out a short breath, eyes roaming over Harry’s features, “I also think you’re allowed to be mad at Tess. You act like you’re the one who’s wrong for her choices. But she made those all on her own. You’re allowed to understand her choices and still be hurt by them, ya know.”

“I’ve never looked at it that way.” Harry admitted, “It’s always been easier to be angry at myself.”

“Easier for who? The way I see it, all that’s done is hurt you. Let yourself feel it, Harry. You don’t need to be sorry for being angry.” He made a short breath, serious eyes roaming over Harry’s face. “It’s up to you to decide if that’s how you see it, too. And I don’t know why it’s important for her to see you now, but you get to choose whether that changes anything for you. And Jesse is old enough now that she gets to choose the same for herself.” Harry shook his head at him slightly, “What… what do you want to do?”

“I…” He glanced past Ramon to the photo. What did he want to do? Was it even about what he wanted in this? Or what was best for Jesse? “I don’t know.” He admitted. The idea of seeing Tess again had drudged up so much repressed anger. At her. At himself. The guilt was secondary, but just as untenable. He looked back down, Ramon’s dark hues yielding softly to the sight of him. “You have to know, whatever happens with her, she’s my past. You’re my present. And my future, if I have any say.” Cisco smiled immediately, shaking his head with a complicated expression.

“You’re not supposed to be reassuring me right now. That’s not how this works.”

“Yes it is. Ramon, I understand how the timing of all this must seem. But I agreed to go out with you before I knew she was coming back. And you’re here now because you’re the one I want.”

“I know.” Cisco said, then rose a bit, pressing their mouths together momentarily. “I know what the past does. And how it changes us. I know all about regret and shame and… fear.” He sighed a little, lowering himself back down, “There are things we all wish we’d done differently, but can never change. And there are things we convince ourselves we owe because of our mistakes. I get all of that. But I also know, from experience, I don’t owe the people who hurt me any more of myself.” Ramon tilted his head a little.

“The truth is, I never did. It took some time to get me there, but I figured it out. With you, I think… you never really got the closure you should have had. You’ve been blaming yourself for things you had no actual control over, and it was easier to say it was your fault for being who you are rather than admitting she hurt you and Jesse. So… I know this is going to sound really ‘overprotective boyfriend’ of me, which I’m not sorry for… but you don’t owe her a damn thing. Not a second of your time or a moment of forgiveness unless it’s what you want.”

Harry felt his heart flutter a bit. And he wasn’t sure exactly what his own expression looked like, but Cisco’s eyes softened remarkably fast in response, glistening at him like so many times before. Boyfriend? Huh. That was such a simple word, but Harry’s heart did a graceful impression of an acrobat at the sound of it. And Harry smoothed his hands around Ramon’s hips, tucking him in close, bringing their mouths together without a second thought. Cisco’s arms moved around his shoulders, and the shirt hiked up, allowing Harry to slip his fingers over bare skin. Ramon sighed against him, their tongues tangling smoothly. And the kiss lingered comfortably for a short while.

“What was that for?” Cisco breathed out, resting his forehead against Harry’s.

“You called yourself my boyfriend.” Harry responded casually, and Ramon huffed a small laugh. “And…” Harry lifted his head to see him clearly, “I think you’re right. About the closure. Which is why I need to follow through with this. If she’s going to be the head of the sciences department at CCU, we’re going to run into each other more than once. I need this to be over with so nothing gets in the way of the work that needs to be done.” He sighed a little. “And so Jesse can have her closure, too.”

“That sounds like a good plan.” Ramon nodded. Harry smiled at him.

“So is that the term we’re going to use? Boyfriends?”

“It’s kind of an antiquated term, now that I hear it out loud. Makes it sound like we’re in high school.” Cisco smirked. “We could do partners?”

“I’m happy with both. And fully plan on introducing you as such.”

“You would.” Ramon snorted, then his face grew serious when he realized Harry meant it. “Wait, you would?”

“It’s what you are to me. Exclusively. Francisco Ramon, genius mechanical engineer, my partner and boyfriend.”

“Exclusively, huh? Does that mean we’re ‘going steady?’” Ramon grinned. And Harry grinned back.

“It means… I’m yours and not afraid to say so.”

“Stop that.” Cisco’s grin softened into a soothed and content smile.

“Stop what?”

“Being so goddamn charming. I can’t think when you do that.”

“Mm, thinking is overrated.” Harry winked at him and Cisco chuckled, smoothing his hands over Harry’s bare shoulders, eyes roaming contemplatively over Harry’s chest.

“Speaking of thinking… what is Jesse going to think about…” He shrugged, “Well, you know.” Harry curled a finger beneath Cisco’s chin, urging his gaze back up.

“What she thinks is I took way too long to get to this point.” He dropped his hand back to Cisco’s hip. “She is very enthusiastic about the idea of me dating you. Apparently Allen and Snow told her all about you. So, when she finds out we’re using terms like ‘boyfriends,’ she’s going to lose her mind. In fact, I’m going to have a very hard time dealing with her after this.” Harry sighed, shaking his head a little. “She’s going to be like an overly hyper puppy.” For some reason, that answer made Cisco sigh softly, looking practically enraptured as he relaxed further into Harry’s hold.

“Is it always going to be this easy?” He asked gently. And Harry stroked his hand up Ramon’s lower back, beneath the shirt. He knew what Ramon meant. Every day since Jitters had been effortless. Like breathing, like walking, like advanced combinatorics. Every moment that should have been nerve-wracking was calm. Everything that should have been awkward was normal. And the acceptance and connection between them seemed just as easy. Miraculously so. But Harry was a realist. He knew, like everyone else, they’d have their hard moments. It was inevitable.

“No.” He answered honestly, “But I’m looking forward to when it’s difficult as much as I look forward to when it isn’t.”

“Why would you look forward to it being difficult?” Ramon looked bemused.

“Because… I plan on fighting for you, beside you, and growing from that together. Giving up is never going to be part of the deal. Not with you. I told you I want to do this right. I’m not walking away because life throws curve balls. I learned my lessons, too, Ramon.” Harry said, and Cisco’s face shifted to quiet seriousness. Thoughts rushed through his deep stare and his hands smoothed down Harry’s chest, one stopping just over his heart.

“We’ll be the ones who stay.” Ramon said softly. Then he stepped back and slid his hands down Harry’s arms, grabbing his hands and turning. He pulled Harry toward the couch and easily got him to sit. And then, instead of sitting beside him, Cisco straddled his lap, facing him, hands planted into the couch to either side of Harry. The shirt hiked up to his hips, and Harry instantly smoothed both hands over his bare thighs, fingers trailing through the fine hairs.

“I want to tell you about the guy I dated who tried to kill me. Brian Reed. And before you ask if I’m sure, I am. It’s important. Because of the impact. It still gets in the way sometimes. But like Tess did with you, the impact Brian left on my life wasn’t small.” He lifted a hand and touched his head, over the scar, then lowered his palm to his own ribs, over the hidden scar. “I want you to understand what it took for me to get here… to be with you.” He dropped his hand to Harry’s chest. “Please.”

Harry slowly inhaled, letting his eyes roam over Cisco’s exposed flesh and the wrinkles he’d made out of Harry’s shirt, he brought his hands to a stop just below the bend in his hips, bringing his eyes back up with a soft nod.

“Tell me everything.” He said lightly. And Ramon nodded, brows knit, trusting Harry with his scars…

Chapter 18: "Stop being so blunt."

Chapter Text

The retelling wasn’t the bad part. Which was surprising.

Cisco got through the words easily enough, telling Harry how he and Brian had met, how he’d let his guard down and was stuck before he realized what he’d gotten into, how Brian had methodically worked his way into controlling him and his life, how no one on the outside realized it because Brian was so good at being the good guy in public and a monster behind closed doors. And Cisco told Harry how he had no answer as to why he’d allowed it to happen, or why it took him so long to finally fight back.

He’d told him about the night Brian broke into his apartment, and made Cisco feel like he was losing his mind because one moment he was trying to find the words to kick Brian out, and the next he was letting Brian use him in bed. He hadn’t fully realized it at the time, but he’d been afraid. He was trying to keep Brian from getting angry at him, from doing something worse. Like part of Cisco knew what he was capable of. Or maybe he was trying to stave off what was coming. But he’d gotten up that morning disgusted with himself, finally speaking up, telling Brian he was done. Brian lost it and beat him within an inch of his life. And he raped him for good measure.

He told Harry what it felt like to be lying on his own floor in front of the refrigerator, blood pooling around his head, everything hurting as he stared at a ladybug magnet and a magazine article, wondering if those were the last things he’d ever see, right before Brian took what little Cisco had left.

Then Cisco told him about how he’d woken up in the hospital a week later, realizing Brian had spared him, though not before he’d broken more than just Cisco’s body. He told him about how desperate Brian had seemed afterward, calling him relentlessly to make Cisco believe that it was all a misunderstanding, a mistake, that Cisco should forgive him and drop the charges. That Cisco could ‘do better than this.’

Those were the words that had infuriated Cisco completely. ‘You can do better than this, you can make this up to me.’ He found his courage after that. He told the police everything. But the bravery didn’t seem to bleed into any other part of his life anymore.

When Brian had assaulted him, he’d succeeded in at least destroying his zest for experiences and happiness. His friends tried to be supportive, and eventually he was able to fake it till he made it. He learned to find joy in little things again, in small moments and simple days. He started going back out into the world. But he had refused to even entertain the idea of opening his heart back up to another man again. Because he was scared. ‘You can do better than this.’ Could he? Did he even know how? If he could f*ck things up so badly that someone actively tried to kill him, why would anyone want to bother? And who would even want him after what Brian had taken?

He had never counted on Harry.

“I wish I’d had the courage seven months ago to do more than spill coffee on you and run away.” He attempted to joke, but he knew it wasn’t one. “I wasted so much time trading happiness for safety. It never occurred to me that I could have both. Until you. You make me think I’m worth more than what I convinced myself. But now I’m afraid…” He shuddered a breath, “I’m afraid that I’ll lose you because I’m not enou-“

“Stop,” Harry sat up straight, bringing them nearly face to face, “Stop that.” His voice was firm but level, and his brilliant sapphire hues were dancing over his own wetly. Like something hurt. Like he should be crying but was refusing. “How could anyone… ever…” he shook his head, voice a whisper, hushed and cracking. “Cisco, I need you to listen to me. I should have told you before we-” His lips tightened, like he was inwardly chastising himself, but then he wrapped his arms completely around him, keeping them chest to chest. And Cisco couldn’t do anything but listen. Because Harry had made his name sound like a secret that no one else would ever be worthy enough to hear.

“I’m not a man that anyone should want to be with. I know what my faults are. What my anger is like. And the emptiness in this house is proof of just how little I’ve trusted myself to be with anyone on this level. Then you had to show up. And all the reasons I had to be alone weren’t good enough anymore.” He exhaled, something raw in his voice that held Cisco’s complete attention.

“You are owed every good thing, every bit of peace and love and time another person can give to you. You deserve to be treated like the joy that you are. And I want to be that for you. But I know… I can’t, not always. Because I’m selfish. I don’t think I was always this way, but I can’t remember a time anymore when I wasn’t. My work, my personality, my temper are all going to make you question me. People always have. I need you to understand that. Being with me won’t be easy. And I need you to know that I have hated myself too long to subject anyone to anything less than the truth about myself.” He said firmly, and Cisco felt like he was on a roller coaster.

Up and down and upside down. Harry made it sound like he was unworthy of Cisco, like nothing about Harry was good enough, which was so far from accurate. And… did Harry really hate himself? Cisco shuttered out a breath at the thought. He was so confused. He didn’t know what Harry was trying to say.

“I also need you to understand, no matter what I am or who I might be… I will never do to you what that f*cking monster did. I will never control you or use you. I will never hit you. I’d never force myself on you. I’d sooner die. And I would tear apart anyone who tried to hurt you. I don’t have forgiveness in me for anyone who dares-“ He clenched his mouth closed for a moment, eyes on fire with more emotion than he could hide, “I would kill them. Because you are better than me in every single way. Do you understand? I know what you are and who you are, too. And I would be a goddamn fool not to hold on. You won’t lose me. Because there is nothing about you I don’t want or need. There is nothing you could do that could change my mind, unless you tell me we’re done. And I’ll respect that, I would let you go. But don’t ever let me hear you say that you aren’t enough. Because of the two us, you are the one who deserves so much better.”

Well, f*ck.

Cisco was rarely speechless. Usually, he talked to fill silence, or yammered on when he was nervous, or his brain was moving so fast that his mouth tried to compensate. But right then and there, sitting in Harry’s lap, he had no clue what to say because he felt too damn much. Didn’t Harry have any idea what he was to Cisco? Who he was becoming to him? Didn’t he know that Cisco wanted it all, too? All of him?

He wanted the soft Harry, the one who looked at Cisco with such fixed goddamn affection that Cisco thought he could live off how it made him feel. He wanted the angry and the serious and hard Harry, the one who hated what Cisco’s family had done to him, and looked like he was fully ready to hunt Brian down and enact some wild-west justice on him if he wasn’t already dead. He wanted the parts he didn’t know about yet, and the ones Harry thought so little of himself for.

Because all of that was a part of Harrison Wells. He knew about the man that everyone told stories about at work. He knew about the man he’d read about. But he also knew about the man who no one else had really ever seen like this except for Cisco. And that man, this man, deserved the whole goddamn world. Cisco couldn’t give him that, but he could give him every bit of love and affection he could muster because… yeah, Harry was a lot of things.

Not all of those things were good. Cisco was hardly perfect, either. But the good in Harry monumentally outweighed anything bad. And Cisco fully planned on riding out every single storm that came because he believed Harry when he said he would never hurt Cisco in all the ways that he had become accustomed to. Harrison Wells was safety. And He was steadily beginning to feel like home. He was everything that Cisco had been looking for, and then some.

Harry had no idea how worthy he was. And Cisco simply did not have the words to tell him.

But he could show him.

He released all the air from his lungs and pressed forward completely, connecting their mouths, arms folded around Harry’s shoulders. And he let all the things he didn’t have the words for translate into everything his body knew how to say.

Harry returned that kiss, matching Cisco beat for beat, intent clear for them both. And as Harry encouraged him to turn into the couch, neither one of them breaking the kiss as he laid down, Cisco had a feeling things might be so much easier with Harry than they’d ever been with anyone else. And when they finally looked at each other, he could see Harry was feeling the very same thing.

Cisco knew he was finally getting this ‘love’ thing right.

It was about damn time.

* * *

They made a mess out of each other again, using each other up on the couch, nearly desperate for each other’s pleasure. Both to witness and to feel. Heated bodies and wandering hands took turns taking and giving, turning the once empty space of Harry’s house into a place for captured moans and whispered words that carried up into the rafters and beams.

Harry couldn’t get over the sight of Ramon, laying there with his hair flowing and tangled, wearing Harry’s shirt all wrinkled and rucked up over his chest. He had his hands in Harry’s hair, holding his stare as Harry nipped and licked and kissed his way down his torso. Ramon’s head went back when Harry’s mouth surrounded his co*ck, his legs spreading a little wider, and Cisco’s fingers got tighter in his hair. He tasted like heat and salt, and Harry curved his tongue around him in response.

Harry hadn’t realized how much he’d missed real intimacy until that first call with Ramon. Phone sex wasn’t anything he’d ever done before. He was hardly inexperienced. In college, he’d had his share of experiences, experimentations, and trysts. And he and Tess had hardly been chaste. After she’d left, he hadn’t wanted rebounds. And he was too busy with raising his daughter and working to give it much of a thought. His last attempt at a relationship had been spectacularly unsatisfying. But denying himself something even as simple as a one-night stand had left him wanting, far more than he’d realized. He was certain now, however, that even something as simple as no-strings-attached wouldn’t have been enough. And the reasons for that were pretty simple.

That phone call had brought him to the point of desperate need in no time at all. Ramon had doused him in fuel, struck a match and set him ablaze. sh*t, he’d practically been burning alive with need. And not a generalized one. It was Cisco he wanted, and only Cisco. Some of the fire was settled in the comfort of Ramon’s bed. But it wasn’t till today, in the emptiness of Harry’s room, that Ramon finally took mercy on him and put out the bulk of the flames. Now, the fire was tempered, embers constantly fed by each moment that came after, ensuring it would never go out. Only Cisco could have fanned the flame back to roaring, just as he was now.

Harry was wantonly greedy about things this time, working Ramon into a desperateness of his own. Cisco couldn’t keep his hips still. It was like he was trying to stop himself from rutting into Harry’s mouth and throat. And the idea that he might want to had made Harry twice as hard and three times as wanting in a heartbeat. He went as deep as possible around Ramon, rolling his eyes shut when he felt the head of him hit the back of his throat. So f*cking good. Cisco moaned out, then swore softly. His grip on Harry’s hair became insistent. And Harry pulled halfway off, opening his eyes, staring straight at him.

He'd given oral before, but he’d never been on the receiving end of what he was asking for now. He’d always been the more dominant one, in nearly every sexual encounter he had. And though that still seemed to ring true even with Cisco, there was something about the idea of having this man use him this way that made Harry feel like begging for it. He recalled that phone call, how he’d felt and sounded the first time he’d begged for Cisco. He’d known then he would do it again. Luckily for him, he didn’t have to this time, knowing the moment they made eye contact that Ramon was going to do both the giving and taking without needing to hear a word.

Ramon panted hard, chest heaving, and it became apparent very quickly that he knew exactly what Harry was giving him permission to do, because his hips started moving in earnest. Between Cisco finally thrusting into his mouth while gripping his hair, and Harry’s own momentum, it was easy to fall into a mind-numbing, blissful relinquishing of control.

There was nothing uncomfortable about it, and his lack of a gag reflex was working in his favor. He let himself completely give in to Ramon’s demand. He closed his eyes, moaning around his girth, throat relaxing into each intrusion. He palmed himself through his jeans while Cisco worked, unable to deny himself some of his own satisfaction.

It really didn’t take long for Ramon to reach his peak, his hands pushing Harry’s head down as a long, ragged moan filled the void between them. And Harry felt the pulsing, tasted the salty burst of warmth that shot into his throat, losing himself in the twitching of Ramon’s groin. f*ck, it felt good. He couldn’t have explained why. This was a first for him, like so many things were turning out to be with Cisco. But holy sh*t, did it make his own need almost painful.

Cisco’s hands loosened on his hair the exact moment he stopped coming. And Harry pulled off, heaving a breath, swallowing and licking his lips as he pressed his forehead into Ramon’s hipbone. His eyes were still comfortably closed, and he was panting softly.

“sh*t, Harry…” Cisco breathed, pushing up on his elbows. And Harry couldn’t think, couldn’t rationalize anything that might have been worth saying. Instead, he moved up Ramon’s form, kissing him hard and fiery, pressing his still jean clad groin into him. Cisco cried out lightly, probably a little over stimulated. And Harry somehow thought clearly enough to push himself back up. f*ck, he was so close, it wouldn’t take much to get him that final mile. But he wanted to feel Ramon’s skin to do it.

He reached between them, grabbing Cisco by the hip and urging him to turn his lower half onto his side. It was amazing to him how they communicated so well without a single damn word needed, because Ramon’s hands hastily undid Harry’s jeans, shoving them down around his thighs as far as he could get them. Then Cisco turned his hips and Harry pressed his shaft into his flesh, giving Cisco’s dick a break. Ramon gripped his ass, massaging, helping him find a rhythm, letting Harry use his body. They pressed their foreheads together, Cisco’s damn beautifully dark eyes locked on his.

His skin was so f*cking warm, his hands just the right amount of encouraging. And after a minute or so, Harry tumbled across that finish line with a loud groan, not bothering to be quiet. He came in bursts over the flesh of Cisco's side, squeezing his eyes shut. If they kept this up, they were both going to be just as useless as Harry had promised to make Ramon earlier. He stilled his hips, panting, willing his heart to slow down as he finally gave all he had to give. Cisco’s hands softened around him, and he slowly and carefully turned his hips again, straightening his body out beneath him. Harry blinked his eyes open, lifting his head slowly. And Ramon was smiling.

“Relax.” He whispered, and Harry realized he was still holding himself up. Partially because now there was a mess. But then Cisco wrapped his legs around Harry’s middle and his body came down against his will, arms bending as he let out a heavy breath, feeling slickness against his skin. “There, much better.” Cisco said, expression lazy.

“You just wanted us both to be a mess.” Harry smirked, relaxing further into Ramon’s hold. He brought a hand up to Cisco’s hair, sighing as he stroked the messy strands away from his forehead. “That was…” He was actually at a loss for words. He felt things starting to ache a little. Muscles he hadn’t used in a long time, despite staying fit, seemed to be a little upset at him. His back wasn’t entirely pleased. And his groin was a little sore now. But damn, was it worth it. Ramon’s cheeks began to turn slightly red, and he made the most sheepish smile he’d ever seen. “What?”

“I, um… I’ve never done that before.”

“Done… what?” Harry’s smile turned sly. “f*ck your partner in the mouth?” Cisco’s brows shot up, but then he smacked Harry’s back and laughed. God, Harry loved that sound.

“Stop being so blunt.” He chastised, and Harry chuckled. “But you’re right.”

“If it helps, that was a first for me, too.” Harry said right before kissing him. Their lips tangled sweetly and softly.

“Why did you… why would you want that with-“

“With you?” Harry interrupted him, and Ramon squinted ruefully. Harry kissed him lightly once more before pushing up. Cisco pulled his legs away and Harry attempted to make sense of their current position, feeling the tightness of his jeans around his thighs. “Because, Ramon,” He continued with a slight grunt as he managed to get to his feet, turning to look down at Cisco as he pulled his jeans up. Ramon sat up slowly, looking down at the mess on his skin, which had slightly rubbed onto the couch. And Harry took in the fully used up and disheveled sight of him before he finished his answer.

“You make me want to beg.” That made Cisco’s eyes shoot straight toward him, surprise clear as day in his dark hues. Harry reached down and took his hands, hoisting him up to stand, the shirt falling back down a little more in place. “Everyone thinks I’m complicated. But what I am is very simple.” Harry slipped both hands into Ramon’s hair, pushing back the waves. “I’m just a man who has been denied the wonder of you for far too long. The happiness you’ve gifted me with, the sound of your voice, the witnessing of your brilliance, the joy of your humor, and the perfection of your body. Now that I’m coming to know all of that, all of you, I can’t help but want more. And the idea of experiencing you in every way I possibly can makes me more than willing to beg for it. Yet another first for me.”

“I take back what I just said.” Cisco swallowed, still looking slightly shocked. “You can keep being as blunt as you want.” Harry smiled, then shook his head. He kissed him again, for no other reason than he wanted to, he could, and Ramon let him.

A few minutes later, they’d managed to clean up the couch. Then Harry ran them both a shower, and they spent time soothing themselves under the hot water. He and Ramon took turns, cleaning each other, touching one another. Harry relaxed under the dutiful inspection of Cisco’s fingers, slick and slow, as he traced muscles and pointed out freckles. Ramon let Harry wash his hair and hold him beneath the steam and heat of the water.

There was an intimacy to this, too. But it was more out of a mutual need for comfort and closeness. And there was something about it that Harry realized he’d desperately missed, probably far more than sex. What it felt like to simply ‘be.’ No expectations. No vying for supremacy in a situation. No greed or intent. No agreement for attachment out of obligation. Just… this. To know and be known. To feel and be felt. And not just by anyone, but by the man in his arms. That’s what it was all coming down to…

Everything he wanted was with Ramon.

“You make me feel safe.” Cisco said out of the blue, turning in his hold to look at him. And Harry felt something in his chest tug at the words. “I know you think there are all these things that I should avoid you for. But I see you, Harry. And I still feel safe.” Ramon went back to relaxing into him, his head on Harry’s shoulder, his back to Harry’s chest. “We’re the ones who stay, right?”

“Yes, we are.” Harry easily agreed.

And Harry knew immediately, despite how fast things had already moved between them, he was more than ready to ask this man to stay forever. He wondered what the 8-ball would have to say about that…

Chapter 19: “Best uncles ever, remember?”

Chapter Text

The rest of the day had gone by so damn easily, Cisco felt like they’d had this harmony forever. Making sandwiches in the kitchen turned into Harry figuring out that Cisco was actually very ticklish under the correct circ*mstances. That ended with Harry smeared in mustard and a whole package of roast beef flying across the room. He wasn’t sure he’d laughed that hard in a long time. Afterward, he spent time looking over the mess Harry had strewn over his dining room table. They got to talking about the accelerator, the quark sphere, the future of S.T.A.R. Labs.

Cisco knew he wasn’t supposed to be privy to half the things they’d discussed, but the idea that Harry trusted him that much was addictive. He wasn’t about to breathe a word. And Harry seemed like he’d missed being able to share his excitement over science with someone who not only understood, but was close to him. He was admittedly pretty honored that he got to experience that side of him. And he had a feeling he was going to milk moments like that for all they were worth. Harry was brilliant, almost otherworldly with his thinking process, and so fast that Cisco was almost convinced his IQ was way higher than he’d read about. And yet, there wasn’t a bit of ego behind Harry’s smartness. It was all passion and genuine excitement. And Cisco wanted to see that every damn day.

Several times, Harry had ended up answering calls from work. It was amazing how fast his demeanor changed from comfortable to ‘work mode.’ He was clear and precise with everything he said, if not a little grumpy. And he handled every request or question with a simple, straight forward approach that cut to the chase and seemed to fix or resolve issues in no time at all. Cisco secretly found it enjoyable to watch, if for no other reason than he got a glimpse into how fast Harry’s mind moved.

Close to 6:30, Jesse had called to remind her father about the time. It was a little funny, thinking she was checking in on him like that. He grumpily acknowledged her effort, and sighed so hard that his chest deflated, but Cisco could see the soft joy just hearing her voice gave him. When Harry hung up, he told Cisco to ‘prepare yourself because Jesse is on her way.’

Cisco knew all about her because of Caitlin. He hadn’t met her in person, but from what he was told, she was as brilliant as her father, young, lively, funny, and very determined. And even though Harry had said earlier that she was all for this, Cisco couldn’t help the strangling anxiety that bubbled up in his chest. This had to be a little weird for her to think about, right? Her dad was just suddenly dating someone she knew about in passing. Would she be concerned? Or maybe suspicious? Maybe that was all just Cisco’s own anxiety talking.

Now, Cisco was standing in front of the tall mirror in the corner of Harry’s room, rolling the 8-ball between his fingers as he looked over his reflection. It was nearly 7:15 and he was getting ready for the gala. Harry had left him alone to dress in a different room, though only because Cisco wanted them to surprise each other with the suits.

He knew that was corny, but it felt like a big deal. And he blew out a quick breath as he fixed the last button on his vest. The dark maroons worked well with his black wavy hair and tanned skin. The material was slightly shiny, but he’d be damned if he knew what that was called. His suit jacket felt a little loose on his shoulders, but it didn’t look like it was. Between the vest, the jacket, the slacks, the shirt, tie, and the shiny shoes, he thought he’d cleaned up pretty well. But it was still weird to see himself all dressed up like that.

“Is tonight going to be amazing?” He asked softly, then looked down at the 8-ball. ‘You may rely on it' popped up and Cisco sighed shakily. It wasn’t exactly nerves he was feeling. He didn’t have that tightness in his chest or the need to keep moving to get the nervous energy out. He was calm. He was maybe a little curious about what he was in for. But he was even more eager to keep the forward momentum he and Harry had found together. He smiled at himself in the mirror, then slipped the 8-ball into his pants pocket.

“Wow.” He heard a familiar voice say, and he turned quickly, seeing Caitlin standing in the doorway wearing a glistening black sleeveless gown with shimmering sequins that fit her round belly and accentuated her soft curves. She had a simple silver necklace with a small diamond pendant settled in the hollow of her throat. Her hair was up in a loose pile of curls, and her makeup was beautifully on point. He grinned at her instantly, something close to relief filling up his insides.

“You can’t say ‘wow.’ I wore this to your wedding.” He reminded as he walked toward her. She grinned back.

“The suit isn’t what I was saying wow to.” She reached out when he got close and held his face in both hands. “It’s the look on your face and in your eyes.” She leaned forward and kissed his forehead, and he felt himself blush all over again. He was doing that a lot today. He’d probably end up doing it a whole lot more before the night was over. “You look so happy.” She whispered, dropping her hands to his and holding on.

“Hey, not fair. I want in.” Barry’s voice made them both look. He was wearing a black tux with a white shirt and a slightly crooked bow tie. He waltzed right up to them, smiling and pulling them each into him for a group hug. Cisco chuckled and Caitlin swatted at him a little before they all held on.

“Wait, wait,” Cisco pulled back, looking from one to the other, “What are you two doing here?”

“Oh, well, that’s simple.” Barry shrugged. “Jesse told Caitlin who told me that you were here getting ready for the gala. So, obviously, we grabbed Ronnie and Iris and came to see for ourselves.”

“Oh my god, poor Harry.” Cisco flopped his head onto Caitlin’s shoulder. “I can’t believe you guys.”

“Ah, nope, no.” Caitlin shook her head, the three of them separating properly to see each other. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell us yourself! And whataya mean ‘poor Harry?’ He didn’t tell me, either!” She nudged his shoulder. “You said you were going on a date with Harry. Not that you were going to the gala with him!”

“What’s the difference?” Cisco couldn’t stop the humor on his features, and she narrowed her gaze on him.

“You did not just ask that.” She crossed her arms instantly, which looked rather adorable with her belly underneath.

“Dude, going to the gala is a huge deal.” Barry gripped his shoulder. “With reporters and the press. They’re televising the auction again this year. It’s not just a dinner at a barbecue shack.”

“Okay, and?” Cisco was genuinely confused as to why they both seemed so… concerned. “What are you two so worried about?”

“You’re… not.” She furrowed her brows. “Why?” Caitlin looked him over, “When you and Harry show up together, people are going to go nuts. He’s never openly dated anyone before, you know that right?”

“Caitlin, I appreciate you.” He smiled, feeling warmed by how much both of them cared. “Harry and I already talked about it all. I know it’s going to be crazy, but we’re going to just take it moment to moment.”

“They’re gonna ask who you are, so what are you gonna say?” Barry asked, slipping his hands into his pant pockets. Cisco shrugged, recalling what Harry had said earlier.

“Hi, I’m Cisco Ramon, mechanical engineer for S.T.A.R. Labs and… boyfriend of Doctor Harrison Wells.” He smiled at his own words and watched Caitlin and Barry exchange glances. “Look, I know what you’re thinking-“

“That’s awesome.” Barry stated, expression earnest. “Like… you two are official?” Cisco gave a slight nod, and a grin spread on Barry’s features. “Dude, I knew it.” He reached out and smacked Cisco’s shoulder, then pointed at Caitlin. “You owe me fifty bucks.” He wagged his fingers at her. She elbowed him.

“I don’t have it in my dress, Barry. I barely have me in this dress.”

“Wait, wait, wait…” Cisco crossed his arms, sternly looking at each of them. “You guys bet on whether or not Harry and I would be boyfriends?”

“No.” Caitlin said, giving him her signature sweet smile. “We bet on how long it would take. I said give it a month. Barry said a week. So, he wins.”

“Well, sh*t.” Cisco deadpanned. “I don’t know whether to be impressed or disappointed.”

“Oh, impressed, definitely. I never win these bets.” Barry nodded. Caitlin smoothed a hand over her belly, making an ‘ooh’ sound as the baby kicked her. She grimaced a little.

“She’s been kicking up a storm today. I’ve been peeing every hour.” Caitlin said, swaying her hips to self soothe. Both Cisco and Barry instantly looked at her. Cisco reached out and grabbed Barry’s arm excitedly, pointing at Caitlin. Her brows went up slowly. “What? What’s that look for?”

“You said ‘she.’” Cisco blurted, then grinned wide. “It’s a girl! Ha! I knew it!” He nudged Barry, “Your fifty bucks are mine now.”

“Aw, come on, man. Couldn’t let the win sit for a while?”

“No! Oh no!” Caitlin stepped forward quickly, shushing them both with a finger over her lips. “Stop, you can’t say anything! Ronnie doesn’t even know!” Barry looked like he was fighting the urge to bounce in place and Cisco laughed a little.

“You know, but your-“ He paused, glancing at the still open door and hushed his tone, “Your husband doesn’t?”

“Okay, so… I couldn’t wait. I was too excited. But I’ve kept it to myself this whole time!” She smiled happily, “Just promise me you two won’t say anything. I don’t want to ruin it for Ronnie.” She held out her hands in fists with both pinkies curled up.

“We got this.” Barry said seriously at the action. Cisco nodded and hooked his pinky into hers, holding out his other. Barry hooked his pinkies into both of theirs, till they were pinky-promising in a circle. It might have looked ridiculous, for three grown adults to be pinky promising each other like that. But it had been a thing between them pretty much from the start. They never broke their pinky promises.

“Thank you guys.”

“Best uncles ever, remember?” Barry winked at her, and they all dropped their hands. Cisco leaned in toward her.

“I am so buying her the pink Darth Vader footie pajamas I saw online.” Cisco whispered. And Caitlin giggled immediately.

“Hey, you three.” Iris’ voice made Barry and Caitlin turn, till they were all facing the doorway. She looked gorgeous, too, her a-line dress had a spectacular dark green silky look, the wide skirt swishing a little as she walked, her matching heels clicking on the hardwood floors. Her hair was up in a perfect bun, and she was smiling brightly at all of them. “I’ll never get over how lovely you all are.” She stopped right before them, doing a double take at Barry before shaking her head fondly. “Even you.” She joked, reaching up and adjusting his still crooked bow tie. He lifted his brows in confusion, trying to look down. “Doctor Wells is making Ronnie feel inferior.” She remarked casually.

“Oh, jeez. Ronnie has always been intimidated by him.” Caitlin sighed, leaning slightly into Cisco. He draped his arm around her, resting his hand at her hip. “He’s probably entirely out of his element.”

“To be fair, if Harry had any idea you all were coming, he’d probably have locked the doors. He’s also probably trying to be on his best behavior right now… and failing.” Cisco smirked.

“He’s not allowed to be antisocial tonight. And can you all believe this house?” Iris asked, patting Barry’s chest after she’d gotten the bowtie mostly in place.

“I thought it’d be bigger. Like a mansion.” Barry remarked, slipping his arm around his wife’s lower back. “But it’s still way fancier than I imagined.”

“I thought there’d be museum pieces everywhere.” Caitlin added, “Ya know… art all over the walls and expensive furniture in every corner.”

“He’s far too minimalist for that.” Jesse’s voice broke in. And Cisco’s eyes darted to her immediately. She was standing in the doorway, hands clutched in front of her. Her pictures had simply not done her any justice. She was absolutely lovely, with auburn hair that sat softly around her shoulders and striking green eyes. She wore a red and black dress with lace flowers that shrugged off her shoulders and had no sleeves. It came to above her knees and she wore black pumps. And her smile… it was just like Harry’s.

“Dad’s never really been a fan of stuff. Which is weird because he can get pretty sentimental when he wants to be.” She looked them over and motioned to them a little shyly. “You all look amazing together.” There was something in the way she said it that was almost a little sad, but she cleared her throat and stepped further in. “I, uh… I was wondering if I could talk to Cisco for a minute?”

Oh, crap.

“Yeah, of course.” Caitlin said, ever chipper. And dread raced through Cisco. He had to fight the urge to grab both her and Barry. But they slipped away with smiling glances, Barry taking Iris’ hand, and they left Cisco standing there with his own stupid thoughts. Jesse came completely into the room.

“Dad said you were beautiful, and he was right.” She nodded, smiling genuinely, her voice soft. Wait, Harry told his daughter he thought Cisco was beautiful? A raging blush pushed into Cisco’s cheeks and he almost had a moment of cartoon logic, thinking he should shuffle his foot and say ‘awe shucks.’

“Shouldn’t I be saying that to you?” Cisco asked, smiling through it, motioning to her. “Because you really are. Beautiful, I mean. The, uh, pictures don’t do you justice. Though I love the one with the fairy wings.” They both smiled at each other and she gave a small chuckle, looking down at the floor as she tucked some hair behind her ear. “Harry... I mean your dad… he talks about you every chance he gets.” Cisco said, taking a step toward her, catching her gaze. “You’re the center of his world.”

“Not the center.” She looked content with the notion. “I share that with all things science and a certain engineer he’s obviously head over heels for.” She seemed to steel herself, like she didn’t want her own nerves getting in the way of where she needed the conversation to go. She moved directly up to him and started rambling. “I’ve been so nervous about meeting you. I’ve known about you for years, and I heard all these things from Barry and Caitlin, about how smart and funny and kind you are, and then when Dad said it was you he was going out with, I can’t even tell you how happy I was. Because I could see how happy he was. And that’s a really big deal, Cisco. You have no idea how long I’ve been trying to get him to step out of his box, or even just-“ She stopped, eyes going a little wide.

“I’m sorry. I do that sometimes. When I’m excited.” Her smile was embarrassed, and she motioned at him. “What I’m trying to say is… I’m really happy about this. About you.” Cisco was standing there staring at her, his brows up, trying to think of what to say to all of that. And she made a small, nervous laugh. “I’m usually more put together than this.” She admitted. “Ya know, more eloquent.” She made an exaggerated head tilt and he smirked at her.

“Oh, trust me… I’m not even remotely eloquent.” Cisco remarked and her nervous expression faded. “I am probably the least eloquent person you’ll ever meet.”

“I don’t believe that. I mean, look at you.” She nodded toward his suit and he looked down at himself, smoothing his hand over his vest.

“Yeah, this is the only suit I own. And I wore it to Caitlin’s wedding.” He nodded, looking back at her. “I am a t-shirts, blue jeans or cargo pants kinda guy, through and through. I have maybe two polo shirts to my name. And one good pair of khakis. You don’t have to be eloquent. And now we really need to find another word because I think that one’s getting tired.” She chuckled at him and he smiled. “I’m just glad I finally get to meet you. I was really nervous, too. About… what you’d think about me.”

“I think…” She paused, then stepped a little closer. “I think my Dad is out there right now smiling more than I’ve seen him smile in a very long time. And that’s because of you.” She stepped completely into him and hugged him. He froze for a moment, eyes dancing over the room behind her, and then he slowly hugged her back. This was not how he thought meeting her would go, and he was glad he’d been wrong. “You don’t know what that means to me, especially right now.” She held on for another moment before pulling back to look at him. “I just need to know… are you sure you’re ready?”

“Ready?” He was confused instantly, searching her eyes. She nodded.

“My Dad is the greatest man I’ve ever known. But he’s not easy. I love him for that, but not everyone can. And… because of the labs and the work he’s done, he’s got this celebrity status he doesn’t want. It can be a lot if you’re not used to it. I grew up with it, and sometimes it still gets to me, and it definitely gets to him. Cameras and questions and… Dad and I have had to fight for what privacy we have. Which means… if you agree to go down this road with him, you’re going to have to do the same. It means when we get to the gala tonight, people are going to have questions and demands. Because the rest of the world has their opinion about Dad, too. And you’re going to have to be ready for what being with him does, how all that attention is going to translate into your life.” She looked worried as she stepped back a little. “Cisco, I’m sorry… I swear to you, I’m not trying to change your mind or make you walk away. I’m just trying to look out for you and my Dad. I don’t wa-“

“Hey, no,” He shook his head, gently smoothing his hands over her arms. She stopped talking, big green eyes dancing over his. “You have nothing to be sorry for. You being protective of your Dad is a good thing.” He watched soft relief take over her face and she let out the breath she’d been holding. “I know you don’t know me. And I know that things between Harry and I are pretty new, but… I’m going to be totally honest with you, because I think you deserve that.” He glanced at the doorway, then looked back at her.

“I’m completely lost on your Dad. Absolutely gone. I’ve hit the exosphere and I’m not stopping.” Her eyes sparkled at that, and he smiled at her. “I know it doesn’t seem long enough for that, but there’s more to it than I can explain right this second. So… I’m going to ask you to trust that I want this. I want him and everything that comes with him. I’m not going to run away because a reporter asks intrusive questions or a photographer shoves a camera in my face.” Her smile was honest and sweet and she huffed a breath.

“I want to.” She motioned at him. “Know you, I mean. Honestly, I kinda feel like I already do a little. Because of Dad, and Caitlin and Barry.”

“I feel like I know you, too. The way Harry talks about you. He loves you more than anyone, you know that, right?”

“Yeah.” She shrugged, then leaned forward and placed a soft kiss on Cisco’s cheek. “Maybe not more than anyone, not anymore. Which is a very good thing.” She stepped back, then held her hand out. “So, are you going to keep hiding out in here, or are you going to show Dad what you look like in that suit?” She wiggled her brows at him, and Cisco chuckled, taking her hand.

All of this was so goddamn easy.

Part of Cisco was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The rest of him didn’t care if it did.

And he let Jesse lead him out of the room and down the hall, fully aware that everything had changed again just then.

He couldn’t be more grateful.

Chapter 20: “I’m having a fantastic time.”

Chapter Text

“Ronnie, did you see this thing?” Barry said out loud, looking at a blueprint on the dining room table. “It’s insane. And genius. Can you imagine?” He reached out and grabbed Raymond from where he was standing, yanking him beside him. Raymond let out a soft yelp, then straightened himself, eyes a little wide, fixing his dark green blazer.

“I really don’t think we should be going through Doctor Wells’ things, Barry.” He said, but his eyes were instantly drawn to the preliminary sketches of the proposed muon collider. Harry was watching them both, pacing a little in the living room, fighting every bit of unfamiliarity he was feeling at having so many people in the house at once. It was bad enough he was all dressed up, and that he’d decided to go to this gala. If it hadn’t been for Ramon, he wouldn’t have even entertained the idea. But now he had people in his house he hadn’t invited. And though they were admittedly some of his favorite people, he was still a little thrown by it.

“If Harry didn’t want us to see it, it wouldn’t be laying right here.” Allen countered. And he looked over at Harry with a barely contained grin. “Seriously, Harry, this is incredible.” Harry stopped and clenched his jaw before dropping his hands and shoving them in the pockets of his tailored azure suit, his blazer fanning out a little. He also had on a light blue shirt, black tie, and matching azure vest. It was as fancy as he was going to get. And when they’d all first shown up, Jesse had been elated by it.

“Yes, it is.” He replied flatly. “And are you always this nosy?”

“Historically, yes.” West spoke up, she was sitting on the couch with Snow, the two women up close and holding hands. They looked very comfortable together, there on Harry’s furniture. As though they could walk into any room he had and make it their own. And, oddly enough, the idea of that didn’t bother him as much as it should have. He’d met Allen before Snow, and West through Allen. He’d know Raymond before all of them. But it didn’t seem to matter the time behind it, he had the same attachment to all of them now. His expression softened at the sight of the two women, especially when Snow pushed out a small breath, smoothing her hand over her belly again. She’d done that several times since she’d walked through the door. He went over to her, standing in front of her.

“Snow.” He said gently, and she looked up at him. “Are you alright?”

“Oh, yeah, baby is just… very active today. Belly and back are sore, that’s all.” She smiled lightly at him, and then she held a hand up to him. He thought for a moment that she wanted help up, but when he took her hand, she pulled him, making him bend over as she placed his hand over the curve of her stomach. He hadn’t expected that, at all. And every instinct told him he should pull away. But then…

Instantly, he felt the movement. And he blinked, first at his hand, then at her. It had happened so easily, so fast, like she trusted him entirely and was so comfortable with him. As comfortable as she was with everyone else in the room. It silenced his internal alarms, the ones that warned him not to get too close to other people, for their sake.

“See? Practically doing summersaults in there.” She said sweetly.

Slowly, he crouched, getting to an easier height as he looked back at her belly. It had been a very long time since he’d felt something like this. It brought back memories of Tess’ pregnancy instantly. Good memories. And slowly, he stroked his thumb over the material of her dress, feeling the baby move again. He realized then how quiet it had gotten in the room. Raymond and Allen were standing behind the couch, both smiling lightly as they watched him. West was practically beaming at him. And Snow? She looked like she had tears forming in her eyes.

“I’ve never seen you look like that before.” She said softly.

“Look like what?” He asked, clearing his throat a little. She put both of her hands over his, keeping it there on her belly.

“Like you want to be here.” She nodded toward West. “With us.” He wasn’t entirely sure what she meant. But he felt his throat catch a little, and gently stood up, slipping his hand away. He took a small step back, closing his blazer as he did and buttoning it in place. “Harry,” She said, watching him and wiping at a tear that had fallen out. “You know you mean a lot to all of us, right?” He looked down at the floor for a moment, trying to keep himself steady because… that statement was unexpected. And it meant far more than he knew how to express. It took every inch of willpower he had to look back at them.

“I think… it should go without saying,” He looked from one person to the next, till his eyes landed back on Snow, “But I am fond of you. All of you.”

He knew why that might be in question. He didn’t typically express these things. And since he’d gotten to know each of these people, he’d found himself looking forward to their presence. Individually, and together. Over time, they’d grown on him. Raymond and his stoic persistence, Allen and his eagerness, West and her steadiness, Snow and her compassion. But he’d never really let himself address what all of that meant. They had a dynamic as a group that he’d never been a part of, and maybe longed for a little. And often he felt like an interloper because of it. Though now he was beginning to see maybe he’d already been a part of it. Maybe he hadn’t realized it until just then.

“All of us, huh. Even me?” Allen asked, pulling Harry’s attention as he wiggled his brows. And Harry rolled his eyes instantly. “Oh, yeah. Even me.” He answered his own question. West reached up and smacked him without looking. And Raymond smirked.

“What about us?” Jesse said from behind him, and he turned to look at her, but his feet stuck in place the moment he saw her hand hooked into Cisco’s arm.

Ramon looked amazing. The maroon brought out the natural tone of his skin. His hair was clean and shining, waves perfectly in place. The dark auburn specks in his eyes were practically glowing, and the suit was tailored to his form perfectly, accentuating the strength of his shoulders and the leanness of his torso. He was, as Harry had always thought, goddamn beautiful.

Harry wasn’t sure what came over his features at the sight of Cisco, but he heard a light squeal come from the couch, and he blinked, forcing himself to come back to his senses before he looked down. Snow had planted a hand to her own mouth, watching him wide-eyed and excited. She very carefully put her hand down.

“Sorry,” she cringed a little, “But I’ve never seen that look on your face, either.”

“What look?” he asked flatly. And she chuckled at him.

“The ‘completely in love’ look.” West replied for her, “It’s a good look on you, Harry.”

“This is great. I’m so invested in this.” Allen said out loud, and then everyone looked at him. “What? He is, too.” He motioned a thumb at Raymond whose eyes went wide, though he nodded.

“Right, yes. I totally am.” He added, catching Harry’s unamused gaze. Harry shook his head.

“I take back everything I said about you all.” That made everyone laugh immediately, and he felt Jesse’s hand on his arm. He looked down at her as she tucked into his side, hugging him around the middle. She smelled like vanilla and she looked as lovely as she always had.

“They’re not wrong, Dad.” She said softly, and he slid his hand up her back with a sigh before kissing the top of her head.

“Traitor.” He said quietly. But he smiled despite himself, peering past her at Ramon, who was standing several feet away. Harry didn’t know what it looked like on himself, but… if the ‘completely in love’ look was anything like what was on Cisco’s features right then, he could see why everyone was reacting this way. West was right. It was a very good look. Jesse pulled away from him and sat down on the couch to Snow’s other side. Snow winked at her. And Harry turned to fully face Ramon.

“You look…” He shook his head a little, trying to find the right descriptor as he examined Cisco’s form again, “Perfect.” He half-whispered, though not because he cared if the others heard. More like he was entranced by the sight of the man before him. A redness crept into Ramon’s cheeks and he smiled brightly before moving straight into him, reaching out and straightening Harry’s lapel a little.

“Magazine photos and news channels don’t do you any justice, Harry.” Ramon easily replied. And Harry smiled softly at him, tucking a hand against his hip. He kissed him softly. It was hardly much more than chaste, fully aware they were being watched. But then he heard another squeal and the sigh that left his mouth was decidedly unamused as he looked up at the ceiling, trying to compose himself. Ramon, of course, laughed lightly at his reaction.

“What now?” He demanded, slipping his arm around Cisco’s lower back as they both turned to look at the group. Ramon mimicked the hold on him.

“Nope, no. Not saying that thought out loud.” Caitlin shook her head immediately, eyes wide as they darted from Harry to Ramon and back again. She made a soft ‘eee’ sound, then grabbed West and Jesse’s hands. “But I really want to!”

“I’ll do it for you!” West offered, practically beaming, and Harry realized she had the same look on her face that Snow did.

“Oh my god!” Jesse blurted, like she’d just realized something very important, eyes going just as wide.

“What is happening right now?” Harry asked Cisco lightly without looking at him, feeling utterly confused and out of his element.

“I’m just gonna say it. I have to.” Snow shook her head, looking completely fine with the fact she’d lost whatever fight she’d had with herself to keep quiet. “You two so had sex.”

“Caitlin!” Ramon said quickly, hand tightening on Harry’s hip. “O-ho my god.” He huffed an embarrassed laugh.

“What? It’s obvious!”

“Yep. Really, really invested.” Allen nodded, completely calm.

“Jesse is sitting right there.” Cisco motioned out wide.

“Oh, don’t worry about me.” Jesse nodded, grinning. “I’m having a fantastic time.”

“Like I said, you’re a traitor.” Harry deadpanned, and they were all laughing again. The alarm on Harry’s phone went off in his pocket, and he sighed in relief as he pulled it out, shutting it off. Saved by the goddamn bell. “It’s time to go.” Raymond was already moving around the couch to help Snow stand. West stood and moved to the end of the couch to grab the ladies’ purses. Allen had grabbed both Snow and West’s shawls. Jesse came right up to Harry and placed a kiss on his cheek before going to the foyer to get her own jacket, and he smiled at her. Her acceptance, no matter how ridiculous this all was, meant the world to him. In fact, all of their acceptance was affecting him in a soft way. And he wished he knew how to interact with them on a better level to prove it. For now, he could interact with them on this level until he figured it out.

“It really is a good look on you.” Ramon said softly from beside him.

“The ‘completely in love’ look?” Harry asked, facing him. Cisco’s smile was delicate. And Harry wanted to kiss him thoroughly because of it. But he could behave. For now.

“Tonight’s going to be amazing.” He tilted his head a little, searching Harry’s face. “In fact, it already is. Thank you for that.”

“There’s nothing to thank me for.”

“You really think that, don’t you.” Ramon wasn’t asking. He didn’t let Harry respond. He reached up and curled a hand behind Harry’s head, rising up a little to kiss him. Only this time, it wasn’t chaste. It was slow, and meaningful, and had Harry’s bones melting in his own flesh. When Cisco pulled his mouth away, Harry heavily blinked his eyes open. And Ramon smiled tenderly before slipping away. He watched him join everyone else as they moved for the door. And for a moment, Harry simply stood there as they made their way out one by one, leaving the door wide open as they went.

The sight of that open front door struck an old wound, one that had been reopened again and again over his life.

When the door was left wide open, it always meant someone was leaving for good.

The inside of the house suddenly felt far emptier than it ever had before. And he couldn’t explain it beyond the fact that those people had given him a glimpse into what it was like to not be wholly surrounded by his own loneliness at all times. Ramon, most of all. He watched as Cisco stopped in the doorway, turning to look at him questioningly. Harry smiled at him before grabbing his keys off the coffee table, ignoring the way the space around him didn’t feel quite right anymore. And he met him at the door, grabbing the knob as Ramon stepped out onto the walkway.

Harry made sure to close the door tightly behind them, secretly hoping they’d all find themselves back in that living room at some point, chasing the emptiness away.

Chapter 21: “Now you’re just trying to torture me.”

Chapter Text

Cisco had thought he’d known what he was in for.

Holy sh*t, had he been wrong.

The gala was being held at S.T.A.R. Labs, in the Community Access building at the far end of the campus. The building had a one-thousand seat auditorium, two giant ballrooms with a 5-star kitchen, a slew of classrooms, a business center, and so much more. It was where every seminar Cisco had ever attended at the labs had been held, but he’d never seen it quite like this. He’d never seen so many people at once. The outside of the building had a literal red carpet, bright lights everywhere, news vans, cameras, photographers milling about, security doing the same, and people dressed to the literal nines. So many people.

They’d parked in the closest employee lot, and Cisco sat there staring out the windshield, watching two couples walk past in their dresses and suits. Harry relaxed back in his seat, keys held loosely in his hand. He was watching things, too, jaw clenching a little before he looked at him. He set the keys in the pocket of his blazer, then reached out and smoothed his palm over Cisco’s thigh.

“You alright?” He asked softly, and Cisco curled his fingers into Harry’s palm, shaking his head a little.

“Oh, yeah. Ya know, just… mildly freaking out.” He cracked a smile, and Harry smirked.

“We can leave.” He offered, and Cisco examined his features in the dimness of the SUV.

“You really hate this stuff, don’t you.”

“I’ve literally been impaled, Ramon. I found that preferable.” Harry deadpanned, and Cisco laughed instantly. Harry’s eyes softened, and he realized that was the whole point. “I’m not a fan. But the obligation is inescapable. Still…” His eyes roamed over Cisco’s suited form, “I am admittedly looking forward to seeing you beneath those lights.” He tilted his head toward the building. And Cisco let out a breath, feeling heat rise to his cheeks again.

Harry lifted his other hand, turning in his seat and cupping Cisco’s cheek, leaning forward and kissing him soothingly. It settled the nervousness in his chest instantly. And he brought his own hand up to Harry’s neck, slipping his fingers over his skin. Harry’s tongue slid perfectly along his own, warm and wet and far too pleasing. And when they pulled apart, Cisco remembered why he was there in the first place. Harry smiled slowly at the look on his face.

“Still so damn beautiful.” He whispered, just before a knock on the window made Cisco jump. He hadn’t been expecting that. Harry clenched his jaw and pulled away with a heavy sigh, turning to see who it was. Barry was standing there, smiling like he was already having the time of his life.

“If you two are done making out, can we go inside? I want food.” His muffled voice made Cisco chuckle. Harry grabbed the door handle and opened it, stepping out. Barry had to back up.

“Allen, no one’s stopping you. You have perfectly usable feet.” Harry chastised right before he closed the door. A recognizable silence filled the SUV, and Cisco unclicked his seatbelt, taking a few deep breaths before getting out, too. The others had taken Barry’s Jeep, and they’d parked a few spaces over. Iris and Caitlin were standing side by side with Jesse, arms hooked. Ronnie was standing somewhat behind them, watching with amusem*nt on his face.

“Tell that to them. They said we all had to go together. Looks like you’re stuck with us.” Barry motioned to the ladies.

“We’re all at the same table. May as well go in at the same time, right?” Jesse said, smiling brilliantly at her father. Cisco made his way around the SUV, stopping near the front left headlight.

“Nope, that’s not it.” Caitlin shook her head. “We’re using you as our human shield against the press.” She motioned at Harry, and he lifted both brows, slipping his hands into his pants pockets.

“Hey, I’m the press.” Iris pouted.

“Not tonight, no exclusives for you.” Barry reached out and took her hand, gently urging her into his side.

“Well, here’s a newsflash for you all,” She smiled, “Caitlin just really wants to see how this goes down.” She motioned between Harry and Cisco.

“That’s so fangirlish that I’m legitimately disappointed in you right now.” Cisco scoffed at Caitlin putting his hands on his hips. She grinned.

“Awe, you know I’m your biggest fan, Cisco.” She assured.

“It’s good to know you have ulterior motives, Snow.” Harry paced over to Cisco, then held his elbow out a bit. Harry winked softly at him and he felt himself relax again before he slipped his hand into the curve of Harry’s arm. “Ready?” He asked softly. And Cisco nodded immediately. No, he hadn’t been prepared for any of this. Not really. But he knew he could get through it because of everyone who’d come with him.

Minutes later, they were following a line of equally well dressed and beautiful people up the walkway to the red carpet. Jesse was holding Harry’s free hand, and Cisco kept pace, his own hand holding to Harry’s arm. Iris and Barry walked behind them, Caitlin and Ronnie after that. There was so much talking going on, music playing from somewhere, strobe lights beside and on top of the building, flashing lights from more cameras than Cisco could ever recall seeing at once, and reporters from different television channels set up in increments along the walk.

The second the first crew saw them, the woman’s eyes went wide and she tried really goddamn hard to get Harry’s attention. But he barely gave her the time of day, steadily walking without a word. He repeated the process several more times, then they all slowed to a halt before the stairs that led up to the lobby.

“Looks like you can’t avoid them all, Dad.” Jesse spoke up, loud enough to be heard. The entire walk to either side of the stairs and the promenade was covered in reporters from newspapers, magazines, journals, the internet, and television. They watched as a man with dark skin and no hair in a fully black suit, including shirt and tie, caught sight of them and hurried down the stairs.

“Doctor Wells, you’re here… in a suit.” He said, dark brows up in surprise as he slowed to a stop in front of them. He looked from Harry to Jesse, offering her a smile. Then he glanced at Cisco, and seemed instantly confused by the sight of him. Cisco recognized him, but he couldn’t remember how. Honestly, his mind was reeling, and he was starting to feel spectacularly overstimulated by all the chaos. Controlled chaos, sure. But still chaos.

“Marcus.” Harry said sternly, and the man’s eyes snapped back to him.

“I’m guessing the lovely Miss Wells convinced you to come, hopefully with a speech prepared for once?” He almost seemed to be scolding Harry, but winked at Jesse knowingly. Harry breathed out of his nose, shifting a shoulder. “And who did you bring with you?” He glanced at Cisco again, then beyond him to the others. He smiled, stepping around them. “Doctor Snow, lovely as ever.”

“Hello, Mister Marcus.” She said cordially.

“It’s just Caleb. How many times do I have to say it?” He smiled. Ronnie slipped his hand a little further around Caitlin’s waist, drawing his attention. “And Mr. Raymond, it’s good to see you, too.” He motioned to Barry and Iris. “Mr. and Mrs. Allen. It looks like the whole dream team is here.” He turned back to look at Harry, Jesse, and Cisco who he finally let his eyes linger on. Immediately, Cisco felt like he was being sized up for something. And he didn’t like that, at all. “I’m very good with faces, and I do remember yours, but I don’t think I’ve seen you at any gatherings before. I’m having a hard time putting a name to-“

“This is Cisco Ramon. He’s the lead mechanical engineer in lab seventeen.” Jesse interrupted, “He’s a part of the dream team now.” She smiled bright at Cisco, and he had to smile back a bit.

“Is that so?” Caleb smiled, then held out his hand to him. Cisco glanced at the others before he took it, shaking amicably. “Tell me, Mr. Ramon, what brings you to the gala tonight?”

“I do.” Harry spoke up, no hesitation in his tone. Marcus lifted his brows, looking at Harry straight on. Something passed over his features that Cisco couldn’t translate. But then he looked at Cisco, eyes moving down to Harry’s hand on his hip and the way Cisco leaned into him, clearly assessing the situation for what it was.

“You mean… as…”

“My date, yes.” Harry nodded, then easily slipped his hand over Cisco’s lower back. It felt warm and large, and it steadied Cisco instantly. “Ramon, this is Caleb Marcus. He’s the director of Public Affairs for the labs. And he’s about to scold me for not keeping him in the loop.”

“You’re damn right, I’m going to scold you.” He said, somehow managing to sound calm about it as he stepped closer to Harry. “You can’t keep dropping this stuff on me, Harrison. I have nothing prepared. Not a single statement.” He motioned to the stairs and the press beyond. “There’s no time to circumvent-“ He breathed heavily and crossed his arms. “What am I even supposed to say to prep them?”

“Whatever you would normally say.”

“No-no. There is no ‘normally’ with you. You never stick to normal. You never make my job easy.”

“Marcus, if your job was easy, I wouldn’t pay you as much as I do.” Harry stated easily, and Caleb narrowed his gaze a little. For some reason, Cisco got the feeling Harry was a little amused by all this. And that Marcus was perpetually flabbergasted by him.

“Fine.” He said, “Since you have yet to take my advice on anything, what do you plan on telling them?”

“The truth.”

“The truth…” Caleb shook his head in exasperation, “You and the truth are going to give me a stroke. I suppose I should just be happy you’re here.” He sighed. “And staying, for once. As evidenced by the suit.” He dropped his arms. “Alright, I’ll go first. The rest of you follow.” He looked at Cisco. “I hope you know what you’re getting into, Mr. Ramon.” He shook his head.

“That’s the spirit.” Harry flashed a quick smile, then nodded his head toward the stairs. Marcus grit out a smile before moving away. Harry leaned down a little to talk near Cisco’s ear. “Remember what I told you before. Don’t answer anything you’re not comfortable with. Would you rather I did all the talking?” Cisco was staring up the staircase. Marcus was at the top, motioning to the press who had microphones stretched out and were hastily asking questions. He couldn’t tell what was being said from that far, with all the ruckus. Photographers were snapping pictures, adjusting lenses, focused entirely on them. And Cisco realized that the noise had gotten somewhat louder. Harry slipped in front of him, blocking the stairs from view. He slid his hands up Cisco’s arms and back down in one smooth sweep, then took his hands, stepping closer. “We don’t have to do this.”

“No, I…” He shook his head, glancing at the others. Caitlin, Barry, Iris, Jesse, and Ronnie had gotten closer, shielding him from view from some of the closer cameras. It made him smile softly the moment he realized it. “I want to.” He looked up at Harry easily, watching his expression go soft. “I’ve got this.” He squeezed Harry’s hands, “We do.”

He meant it. He knew this was part of the deal. Harry may not have wanted the celebrity status, but he was stuck with it. Cisco wasn’t about to make it harder for him, but he also wanted Harry to know he wasn’t going to shy away from it, either. And he could see Harry knew it. Because his smile was quiet, but real. Cisco leaned up and placed a soft, short kiss on his lips. And just like that, everything around them sounded like they were in a sports arena. Only with a lot more clicking from cameras and a veritable lightning show of flashing bulbs.

Harry blinked down at him, pleasantly surprised by that kiss and his smile grew immensely before he nodded at the others. Then he turned to lead Cisco up the stairs. Cisco walked side by side, hand in hand with him, taking steady breaths every step of the way. He could do this, he had to do this. He was doing it. When they got to the top, Marcus smiled warmly, features professional and friendly as he motioned for the press to quiet down. He leaned down a little to talk to Cisco.

“I choose who you speak with, and they get one question each. They’re all wearing earpieces connected to the same signal, so they all will be able to hear everything that’s said into their mics.” He informed, not giving Cisco a chance to respond as he stepped in front of them.

“Thanks for the info.” Cisco mumbled to himself.

Harry slipped his free hand into his pocket, Jesse’s hand hooked into his arm. Cisco held on to Harry’s other hand, and focused on the smoothing of Harry’s thumb over his knuckles as they waited patiently for the ruckus to die down. Microphones stretched out, cameras kept clicking. Then Marcus pointed to one of the reporters, a woman dressed in a sleek red gown, with matching red lips and flowing black hair.

“Miss Dana Ortiz, Central City Live at Nine.” Marcus introduced. She instantly stepped up to the red barrier rope, microphone in hand. The cameraman behind her stayed close.

“Doctor Wells, it’s only been a short while since the world learned of your bisexuality in the monthly S.T.A.R. Labs Informative Magazine, which all of your LGBTQ+ affiliates and allies have applauded you for, including CC Live. But I have to ask the question, was that announcement of your preferences preemptive to this moment?” She looked at Cisco, flashing a friendly smile before holding the mic out to Harry. He shook his head.

“I was asked that question in a different way earlier. It was hardly an announcement. I’ve never hidden who or what I am. The people who are closest to me and those who have known me the longest can attest to such. That doesn’t mean that I’m unaware of how difficult it has historically been for many LGBTQ+ people to express their true selves. And I was honored by the outpouring of kind and accepting words I received because of that article.” He said so goddamn easily, like every press conference and interview Cisco had ever seen him in. As much as he hated this stuff, he was ridiculously good at it. He commanded such attention, and every word was so precise. Cisco wasn’t sure he could ever sound so eloquent. That word… eloquent. It made him smile and glance at Jesse, who was watching him with a smile of her own.

“Thank you, Doctor Wells.” Dana said, turning to look at the camera as Marcus urged them several feet forward and stopped at another part of the rope.

“Mister Frank Bonaparte, Central City Picture News.” He introduced, and the lean, tall man with a microphone in hand nodded. He was wearing a loose-fitting navy blue suit, and had sharp hazel eyes.

“Doctor Wells. I’m going to cut straight to the point and ask the question everyone here is going to ask over and over again tonight. Who is your date?” He smiled, and for some reason, Cisco could tell it was genuine as he held the mic out for Harry, who looked down at Cisco immediately.

“This is Francisco Ramon.” He began, and Cisco instantly started to feel his insides warm up, stuck on Harry’s beautiful sapphire gaze, feeling a sense of safety and familiarity he readily held on to. “A genius mechanical engineer at S.T.A.R. Labs who I have the great honor of calling my boyfriend.”

“If I’m being honest, Doctor, that’s a surprising development. But in my personal and objective opinion, a good one.” Frank said into the mic, “As an openly gay man myself, it’s a comfort and an encouragement to see someone in your position living just as openly. Thank you, Doctor. And you, Mister Ramon.” Harry nodded, Cisco smiled, and Marcus urged them forward again.

“Miss Stacy Taylor, Inquirer.” He introduced the next, a blond woman with a loud pink, almost skin tight dress. She stepped up eagerly.

“Mister Ramon,” She was staring sharply at him, and it was a little weird to hear her already knowing his name. He had to remind himself quickly about what Caleb had said about all of the reporters having earpieces. “How old are you, how long have you and Doctor Wells been dating, and do you receive any preferential treatment working at the labs because of your relationship?” She quickly held the microphone out, waiting for him to respond.

“Miss Taylor, one question only.” Marcus leaned in and reminded, and Cisco swore he heard something almost dark in his tone. But he shook his head.

“No, it’s okay.” He said, looking up at Harry who was watching him intently. Then he gave Stacy Taylor his full attention. “Miss Taylor, can I be honest with you?” He asked, and she raised her brows.

“Absolutely.” She eagerly responded, and he smiled a little.

“I hardly think that line of questioning is appropriate under the circ*mstances. Aren’t we all here to celebrate the achievements of young scientists while raising money for their continuing education? In fact, this gala alone has not only helped to fully fund science and tech programs all over the country, but it’s helped young inventors follow their dreams, like fifteen-year-old Sicily Danvers.” He pointed up the walk where a teenage girl was standing with her parents, talking to a different reporter with a bright smile on her face. He’d read all about her in the labs’ weekly ‘Spotlight on Change’ on the main website.

“Did you know she invented biodegradable stitches from radishes?” He continued. “They cost next to nothing to produce. Do you have any idea how amazing that is? Her invention allows clinics in poor neighborhoods and struggling communities to give wound care to those in need without breaking the bank.” He smiled wide at the thought. “That’s brilliant. I mean,” He laughed a little excitedly, motioning at Stacy, “It’s world changing. And it seems infinitely more important than whether or not you get a juicy sound bite. Ya know, unless the Inquisitor is really that invested in the bedroom dynamics of two consenting adults.”

He watched her eyes go wide and her jaw drop a little as quite a few people laughed around them, reporters and cameramen alike. Marcus’ carefully composed smile became amused, and Jesse had moved around to Cisco’s other side, hugging his arm tight as she hid her face, trying to not to laugh along with everyone else. Cisco kept smiling, then looked up at Harry.

Oh.

Wow.

Harry was looking at him like he’d pulled the moon down out of the night sky and handed it to him. And he felt everything in him go fuzzy and longing instantly under that gaze.

“Miss Taylor, thank you.” Marcus said, and urged them forward, making Cisco look away. But then Caleb turned around and leaned in so the three of them could hear. “You really are a genius.” He said directly to Cisco, then looked at Harry. “You’re keeping him, I hope.” Harry smiled knowingly.

“I plan to, yes.”

“Good.” Marcus turned back around, and the next twenty minutes went by a lot easier than Cisco had imagined they would. By the time they finally got inside, Cisco was feeling far less overwhelmed and a lot more confident than when he’d first arrived. Everyone made their way through the lobby toward the ballrooms, but then he heard Harry say ‘Excuse us for a minute,’ right before he tugged Cisco in the direction of a locked door.

“What’s going on?” Cisco asked loud enough for Harry to hear. But Harry shook his head and slid his access card through the reader. They heard the door unclick. Harry opened it and motioned for Cisco to go in. It was an empty and soundproof read-in room, where the security personnel did their reports for shift change. The moment the door closed behind them, Harry pushed him up against it. And before he could think to question why, he was being kissed very, very soundly.

Harry had one hand flat to the door, and the other moved to the back of Cisco’s neck, under his hair, helping him crane up as he pressed up against him. Their tongues danced and their lips worked in tandem. His own hands clung to Harry’s ribs, underneath his suit jacket and his whole world spun on its axis in a very wonderfully disorienting way. He couldn’t think. He could only feel. And the rush of everything they’d just done outside transformed into a much better form of adrenaline as Harry’s mouth gave him all kinds of pleasure. Which was both perfect and awful because he knew they couldn’t stay in there making out, no matter how much they wanted to. Harry knew that, too, because his mouth slowed.

He pulled back, but left their bodies and foreheads pressed together. Cisco kept his eyes closed, panting a little. He felt Harry’s hand move away from the door and slip over his cheek, his thumb dragging gently across Cisco’s lips. That made his eyes flutter and he caught Harry’s pupil wide and shimmering stare.

“Beautiful, and brilliant.” Harry whispered, “What I would do to you right now if I could…” He lifted his head, eyes dragging down Cisco’s form. And Cisco deflated his lungs, trying to keep his brain from continuously stalling.

“Don’t worry, Harry. I don’t plan on letting you sleep tonight.” He said clearly, and Harry’s eyes went back to his. A damn handsome and sly smile appeared. “How you look at me, it’s so unfair.” Cisco whispered, then swallowed.

“Unfair how?”

“Unfair like… I can’t think when you do that.” He said with a light smile, smoothing his hands over Harry’s chest, straightening out his vest and then his blazer. “People are going to wonder where we went.”

“Let them.” Harry gently pulled him away from the door, then fixed his blazer, too. “Besides, they’ve figured everything else out so far.” He then smoothed out some of Cisco’s hair, and pushed it off his shoulder. “They’ll probably figure this out, too. I’m sure Allen and Snow are making bets.” He smirked a little at the notion. And Cisco laughed lightly, flopping his forehead onto Harry’s shoulder, closing his eyes.

“I’m so goddamn lucky.” He said and felt Harry’s face lower to the top of his head. Harry kissed his hair gently.

“I’m luckier.” Harry replied. They stood like that in silence for a moment, then Cisco sighed, lifting his head. Harry’s expression was calm, but his eyes were lit up with fondness. “Ready?” He asked. And Cisco nodded immediately.

“Do you think they have cheesecake?” Cisco asked, wiggling his brows as Harry reached for the door. They stepped back out into the bustling hall.

“We haven’t even had dinner yet and you’re already thinking about dessert.” He closed the door and Cisco instantly took his hand, winding their fingers together.

“Oh, cheesecake isn’t going to be what I have for dessert, Harry.” He insinuated, and Harry paused his steps, looking down at him.

“Now you’re just trying to torture me.” He said grumpily, and Cisco grinned at him.

“Hey, where’d you guys go? We found our table.” Ronnie said as he came into view, strolling up to them, looking from one to the next. Both Cisco and Harry chuckled at each other, smiling ridiculously. “What’d I miss?”

“Nothing, Raymond.” He patted Ronnie’s shoulder absently as he and Cisco passed him. “Nothing at all.”

Cisco could practically feel the confusion rolling off his friend, and it all made him feel lighter than air. He slipped his fingers into his pocket, feeling the smoothness of the small 8-ball inside. And he rolled it into his palm without taking it out. It had been absolutely correct about tonight. Cisco might not say it out loud, but that simple toy had literally changed his life. And, just like with Harry, he didn’t plan on ever letting it go.

Chapter 22: “She’s going to be fine.”

Chapter Text

Tess had a seat at the back of the ballroom for the entire night with other educators from CCU, dressed as simply as she could manage while still being passably lovely in the crowd. She didn’t stand out, and she preferred it that way. She wasn’t interested in being noticed.

Seeing the wonder that the labs had grown into was sobering and melancholic. When she’d left all those years ago, the campus hadn’t been so large, or so intimidating. It hadn’t been this incredible wonder of design and science like it was now. What Harrison had turned S.T.A.R. Labs into was admirable. And something deep down inside of herself regretted that she hadn’t been there to witness it.

Even now, she hadn’t planned on coming to see it. At least not so soon. She’d only just returned to Central City. She wasn’t planning on much of anything beyond getting herself settled. But the Dean at CCU had attached several of the staff onto the invitation for the gala. And when the director of the Math department fell ill, he asked her if she would like to take the spot instead.

She should have said no, but she’d told herself it was a good opportunity to get to know her colleagues. And she’d fooled herself into thinking it wouldn’t be hard. Harrison never came to these things, anyway. He abhorred being ‘fancy,’ and the doggedness of the press. And from what she’d seen in the news and magazines over the years, that hadn’t changed. She was sure the chances of seeing him there were nil.

She’d never been so wrong.

He'd barely changed. Still tall, handsome as hell, with the same striking eyes and intense expressions. Age had been kind to him. And so had life, from what she could see. He was surrounded by people who respected him, and not just for show. She could see the way the people at the table he sat at interacted with him. Like he was a friend. Like he was their family. And the way he responded to them was no different. She remembered that look, of affection and softness. He looked at them all that way. Though there were two of them that look became far more intense for. One was their daughter.

Jesse was far more beautiful in person than Tess could have dreamed of. Her smile was just like her father’s, and she exuded confidence and happiness effortlessly. She was a bright spot, and if the lights seemed to shine on her a little brighter than the rest, Tess wouldn’t tell anyone otherwise. She spent most of the night staring at the woman her little girl had become. And the man who had raised her to be that way. It hurt so much more than she could have counted on.

After most people had gotten through their meals, Harrison stood at the podium to speak. She knew immediately that coming here had been a monumentally bad decision. He commanded attention with no effort. He spoke with ease, calm, and a well-honed power that had never changed. He’d always been so sure about himself, about who and what he was, and he never wavered from it. She envied him for that. She missed him for that. And she hadn’t realized how much until the speech ended, the crowd applauded, and the music picked up from the live band. Jesse stood up from her seat and tugged her father onto the dance floor, and he danced with her in his hold, beaming at her like she was the absolute center of his universe. As she should be. As she should have been for Tess.

She’d made so many mistakes. She’d never be able to make up for any of them.

When the song ended and they returned to the table, Harrison didn’t sit. He leaned over, holding the back of the chair of the long-haired man, and spoke something into his ear. Then she watched Harrison hold out his hand, and the man smiled up at him with a nod. Harrison led him out to the dance floor, and they swayed together to a lovely slow song. The long-haired man was tucked in close, letting Harrison lead, holding his gaze as they talked softly to each other. And the look on Harrison’s face… she’d never seen him look at anyone like that.

Once upon a time, he’d looked at her in a similar way. But never with such strength behind it…

“That’s the man I heard people talking about,” The woman beside her said. Her name was Sarah Fields, she was CCU’s Lead Admissions Coordinator. “Francisco Ramon. He’s Doctor Wells’ boyfriend.”

“How long has that been going on?” Another woman, Mira Rodgers, a physics professor who now worked under Tess, watched as the two men swayed in the distance. “Goodness, they make quite the sight.” She looked at Sarah. “A damn good one.” The two women chuckled.

“No one seems to know how long they’ve been dating. But he works at the labs. He’s a mechanical engineer, from what the press was saying.” Sarah said.

Tess tuned them out, excusing herself quickly from the table, and she hurried out to the lobby. People were milling about everywhere. Some were holding drinks. A few were talking on cell phones. But she ignored all of them and made her way to the ladies’ room, ducking quickly inside and going straight to the sink.

She gripped the countertop for a moment, closing her eyes and hanging her head as the enormity of her own emotions threatened to undo her. She heard a toilet flush and nearly jumped out of her skin, eyes darting to the mirror in front of her. A stall door opened, and Tess froze a little. She recognized the pregnant woman from Harrison’s table. She was smoothing her hand over her stomach as she walked up to the sink. She made a soft smile at Tess as she turned on a sink to wash her hands in.

“How much time?” Tess found herself asking, and blinked at her own question before turning a little to look at the confusion on the lovely woman’s features. She motioned softly at her pregnant stomach. “Till you’re due?” She offered a smile of her own, and the woman returned it easily.

“One month.” She said with a nod. “But the way she’s acting lately, I’m hoping she comes a little bit sooner.” She shut the water off and grabbed one of the soft looking towels from the stack on the sink, drying her hands up.

“She’s active, hm.” Tess said, clasping her hands in front of her.

“I swear I could make a living out of going to the bathroom at this point.” The woman chuckled, tossing the towel into a basket beside the sink. She turned to look at Tess fully, then something like recognition flashed through her eyes. “Do I know you? You look very familiar to me.”

“Oh, no.” She shook her head. “We’ve never met.” She held her hand out instinctively, then realized that meant she’d have to introduce herself. “I’m Professor Morgan. I’m the new sciences director at CCU.” The woman shook her hand with raised brows, and her soft smile grew bright.

“Oh! I’m Doctor Caitlin Snow. I run the biotech labs in the main.” She said. “It’s so nice to meet you.”

“You run a section of the labs?” She asked, dropping her hand when Caitlin let go. “You’re so young.” She was as awed by the prospect as she sounded, only ever having known Harrison to be so far ahead of the curve, and she laughed in slight embarrassment. “Forgive me, I-“ But Caitlin waved her hand idly.

“Don’t even worry about it. I get that a lot. I worked my way up like everyone else, I just did it a little faster than others.” She smiled knowingly, then motioned a thumb over her shoulder. “I have to get back. My husband is going to eat my dessert if I don’t get out there, and the cheesecake looks too good to sacrifice.” She stepped back and waved softly. “It was nice to meet you!” And she headed for the door, pushing it open and disappearing back into the murmur of the lobby. When the door closed, Tess was surrounded by the silence that settled in.

Something told her that Harrison was part of the reason that lovely woman was running her own department. Not because she was incapable, far from it. But because Harrison had been the one to see all the reasons that she was. He was good like that, seeing the potential in others, giving them all the chances they never would have gotten elsewhere.

She briefly wondered if that was how he’d met Francisco Ramon.

She could admit, he was a striking man. Younger, though she knew that probably wouldn’t have occurred to Harrison at first. And he looked at Harrison as though he was the brightest star in the night sky. Harrison looked at him exactly the same. They were obviously in love. And she was honestly happy about that. Happy for Harrison, that he found someone he could give himself to, someone who wanted him, not just for the convenience and logic of it. But for something far more real.

Tess composed herself and glanced once more at the mirror before heading for the door, reaching out to push it open. But she startled a little when the door opened on its own, a young woman stepping into the doorway and immediately freezing in place. The calmness of her beautiful face suddenly shifted into bewilderment… even fear. And Tess knew exactly why.

“Jesse…” She breathed out, completely frozen, having no idea what she was supposed to say or do. This wasn’t how meeting her was supposed to happen. Jesse shook her head immediately, looking instantly distraught as she backed up into the lobby without looking, like she couldn’t be that close to Tess but couldn’t tear her eyes away. “No, wait, please!” She moved forward, hearing the desperation in her voice.

“No!” Jesse said firmly, pointing at her. “No.” Her voice choked a little, and she turned quickly on her heel, pushing past a pair of women who moved out of her way. Tess wanted to chase after her, wanted to say anything, everything. But she let her go, a shaking hand going to her lips as her eyes welled with tears.

“I’m so sorry.” She whispered to no one, wishing she could take back ever having accepted the invitation.

* * *

Harry was trying very, very hard to think clearly as he made his way out to the lobby.

He stopped, jaw clenching, eyes roaming the open space. Jesse had come up to him in tears, trying so hard not to show how shaken she was as she told him she’d seen her mother. And every instinct he had to protect Jesse kicked into high gear. He left her with Snow, and made a quick and quiet way out of the ballroom. No one other than the group seemed to realize he was furious.

“Harrison.” He heard her voice and he turned to the left, seeing her standing there dressed in a plain gray knee-high dress with black heels. Her blond hair was down in waves around her shoulders, and she had her hands clutched beneath her chin. Her green eyes were wet and she looked as distraught as Jesse had. She looked exactly as he remembered her, only older. Just like he was. He moved over to her, aware of the people milling about, and he pulled his key card out of his pocket.

“Come with me.” He ordered her as he walked past her, going to the nearest locked double doors. He swiped his card, yanking one of them open when the lock clicked. It led to an empty, large conference room. The motion sensor lights came on and he waited for her to step in before he nearly slammed the door. “What the hell are you doing here?” He demanded. “I told you I would call you tomorrow. We agreed. You can’t just-“

“Harrison, stop, please, I didn’t plan this! You need to know that.” She pleaded, standing behind a chair as he rounded the table to put space between them. “There was an extra seat on CCU’s invitation. The Dean asked me to join them. I didn’t think either of you would be here.” She urged, and he put a hand on one hip, grabbing the back of his neck with the other, irritation and anger seething in his chest. “I’m so sorry. This isn’t what I wanted. I… I wanted it to be on her terms.”

“Why?” He dropped his hand, glaring at her. “Why wouldn’t I be here?! It’s my labs!”

“Because you hate these things!” She motioned out wide, then dropped her hand to her side, her familiar eyes staring him down. “Or you used to.” Her voice got softer, and she looked him over like maybe she didn’t recognize him. “You’ve changed.” He shook his head at her.

“You haven’t.” He said very clearly. And she instantly looked like he’d struck her. He didn’t want to care about that. “You’ve always done what’s best for you.”

“That’s not fair.” She whispered, tears rolling out of her eyes as she crossed her arms.

“Isn’t it? f*ck, Tess.” He hissed out, turning away, letting the chair go roughly. “She hasn’t seen you or spoken to you in seventeen years.” He looked down at the floor, hands on his hips. He shook his head quietly.

“I know.”

“No, you don’t.” He looked back at her. “You have no idea what that was like for her. To grow up without her mother. To feel like she’d been abandoned.”

“I… I didn’t abandon her. I left to protect her, to protect you both!” She moved around the table.

“She doesn’t see it that way. And maybe I tried to convince myself of that, but I don’t believe it, either.” He faced her. “If you were simply trying to protect us, you would have come back when you got better. You didn’t. That’s what we know.” Tess smoothed her hands down her hips, expression conflicted.

“Harrison… I… I did come back.” She said very quietly, and he furrowed his brows.

“What?” He demanded, confused.

“When she was nine. I’d been sober for two years. And I came back to the city, to see you both. To ask if I could be a part of her life again.” She smiled, and it was small and sad. “I parked on the road at the end of the drive. I think I felt like I was intruding. But when I got out, I heard Jesse… laughing.” She stepped forward, fresh tears rolling down. “You were teaching her how to use rollerblades. She was wobbly at first, but…” Her words broke a little. “When you let go, she did so well. You were so proud of her, and she was just… happy.” She choked out a smile, shaking her head. “I turned around and left. Because I realized, in that moment, seeing me would do more harm than good. I didn’t want to be the reason she stopped looking happy.”

Harry felt his own eyes burning. He remembered that day. She’d begged for a pair of rollerblades for months, and he’d gotten them for her birthday. She refused to learn with anyone else but him, and they’d spent hours with her going up and down the driveway until she could do it all on her own. It had been a very good day.

“She’s so beautiful.” Tess whispered, wiping softly at her cheeks. “You did so well with her.” He tore his eyes away from her, clearing the tightness in his throat. “You’re such a good father.”

“Stop.” He said roughly. “Just stop.” He shook his head, looking back at her, feeling a tear roll out of one eye. He swiped at it and looked past her at the door. “I will call you tomorrow. But you need to leave now.” He looked back at her. “You will not talk to Jesse until she’s ready. And that may not be for a long time now.” He wasn’t giving her an option in this. Seeing Jesse so upset hadn’t done Tess any favors.

“I understand.” She nodded, wiping her face completely dry as she shook out a breath. “I really am so sorry about all this, Harrison. And…” She dropped her hands, smiling softly. “I’m ecstatic for you.” She motioned at him. “You looked so happy out there.”

“Thank you.” He said softly, “Please go.” She nodded, turning away without another word. She paused a moment, and he watched her hands flex before she reached for the door and disappeared out into the lobby. The door swung closed very slowly, and didn’t latch all the way, allowing him to hear the murmur beyond. He stared at the crack in the door, unable to move.

He hadn’t thought it would hurt this much.

He thought he’d be past most of it.

Maybe Ramon had been right. He’d spent so much time being angry at himself that he hadn’t let himself feel the weight of what he’d felt about Tess. And now, having come face to face with her, he’d felt it all at once, both like it was an old pain and a brand new one. He closed his eyes, trying to shove it all back down, trying to will it away. He needed to go back out there and take care of Jesse. But he couldn’t do that if he was a mess himself. The sound of the lobby grew louder then, and he opened his eyes to see the door had opened more. Standing in the doorway was Ramon, and he looked concerned.

“I saw you both come in here. I didn’t want to intrude but I saw her leave and…” Cisco stepped in, nudging the door slightly closed. “Are you alright?” He asked clearly, moving slowly up to him, like he was trying to gauge the situation. What Harry should have done was compose himself and shove all those emotions back down. But with Cisco standing there, looking like solace and safety, Harry shook his head stiffly. Before he could second guess himself, he moved to meet him. Ramon instantly wrapped his arms around him and Harry held him back, settling his face against his hair and shuttering out a breath. “I’m so sorry.” He whispered.

Harry didn’t know what he had to be sorry about, but just having him there was a relief. Harry didn’t fight the few tears that fell, pressing his forehead into Cisco’s shoulder as Ramon ran a hand up and down his back. He didn’t rush Harry or say anything further. He just held on. And Harry couldn’t be more grateful for that. It wasn’t till the phone went off in Harry’s pocket that they finally pulled apart. Ramon was looking at him with the most tender expression he’d ever seen him make, and he lifted his hands to Harry’s face, gently wiping his cheeks as Harry fished his phone out of his pocket. Jesse’s name flashed on the screen. He pressed the speaker button to answer.

“Sweetheart,” He began, but she spoke up instantly.

‘Dad, you have to come to the lobby, something’s wrong with Caitlin and I don’t know where Cisco went!’ She sounded beyond worried, and Cisco’s hands dropped, eyes darting to the phone and back to him.

“Hang on.” Harry said quickly and ended the call, both of them moving fast toward the door. There was a small crowd gathering near the center of the lobby and both he and Cisco pushed through. “Move, move it!” He ordered, suits and dresses getting out of the way at the sound of his voice. He saw Jesse instantly and she motioned behind herself, stepping aside. Ronnie and Barry were both holding Caitlin, one to each side, helping her stand. Iris was setting down a chair for her to sit in, and the two men helped her lower down onto it. “Snow?” Harry said her name, walking straight to them.

“What happened? What’s wrong?” Ramon demanded, clearly worried.

“I don’t… I don’t know.” Caitlin said, “I-I feel really weak right now.” Her words sounded a little slurred, like she’d been drinking, which they all knew wasn’t true. Instant alarm bells went off in Harry’s head and he put a hand on her cheek, bending a little to look at her clearly. Her skin felt clammy.

“Harry,” she whispered at him, worry in her eyes, “I don’t feel very good.” She said softly, closing them for a moment.

“Caity?” Raymond asked worriedly, crouching in front of her, letting her put her hand on his shoulder. “Honey, look at me.” He asked, concern crossing his features.

“I…” She opened her eyes, shaking her head a little. “I feel really lightheaded. Ronnie, the baby…” Her gaze was filled with thought, like she was running through a scenario in her head, or trying to put pieces to some sort of puzzle back in their place. But it was more than that. Something like fear flashed over her features before her eyes fluttered shut and she began to go limp. Harry was moving instantly, helping Raymond catch her.

“Caitlin?!” Raymond exclaimed, worry thick in his voice.

“Jesse, call security, have them get the onsite paramedics down here now.” Harry ordered, cradling Caitlin’s head. “Raymond, we need to get her on the floor, onto her left side. Ramon, grab her legs.” The three of them moved quickly, neither man questioning him as they carefully got her onto the floor, keeping her on her side. “Take her shoes off.” He pulled his blazer off, rolling it quickly and tucking it beneath her head. He heard Jesse start talking to the emergency operator, pacing behind him. Harry reached past Raymond and tucked her left knee up a bit toward her stomach. “Raymond, has she fainted before?” Raymond didn’t react at first, staring at his wife and smoothing his hand through her hair. “Hey,” he snapped his fingers at him, and Raymond startled a little, looking at him, “Has this happened before? Or has she been sick lately?”

“She… no, she’s just been tired the last few days. But she hasn’t been sleeping well. And… and she used to get dizzy spells during the first trimester. Around the time the placenta tore.” His eyes got wider. “Oh, god, is that what’s happening?”

“No,” Harry shook his head, gripping his shoulder. “I don’t think so.” He looked at West and motioned to her to come close. “I need you to look between her legs and tell me if there’s fluid or blood on her underwear.” They couldn’t see it through the dress, and Harry wasn’t about to look. The crowd, though staying back now, was getting bigger, and Harry would never embarrass her like that, unconscious or not.

“Give me your jacket.” He ordered Allen, and he quickly shrugged it off, handing it to Harry. He shook it out and laid it down over Snow’s lower half. West nodded, swallowing a little and moving in between Harry and Raymond. Harry gently lifted Snow’s leg by the knee as West got down low, lifting the jacket enough that only she could see, peering up Snow’s dress between her legs. Her brows shot up and she straightened.

“There’s blood.” She stated, “But not a lot. It’s just a little bit. Like spots.”

“Okay,” Harry clenched his jaw momentarily, lowering her leg back down. He felt Ramon grip his thigh tight and he glanced at him. His eyes were wet with unshed tears and his features were struck with worry. Even terror. He was looking right at Harry. He took Cisco’s hand, squeezing lightly before he put it right on Snow’s belly. “Keep track of the baby. As long as it’s moving, we don’t need to panic.” He looked back at everyone else. Allen was standing there looking just as scared as Cisco, hands clasped behind his head. Jesse had her cell phone pressed to ear, hugging herself with one hand. People were whispering, murmuring. Many of the employees who’d come for the gala had managed to create an unintentional barrier, blocking off the reporters that had begun to gather. And he was grateful for that. He looked back at Raymond. “Ronnie.” He said his first name and the man’s brows shifted, eyes wet but staring right back at him. “She’s going to be fine.”

“How do you know all this stuff? How do you know she’s going to be okay?”

“Jesse was premature.” He said, refusing to look away. Raymond needed steadiness right now. No matter what Harry was going through, he could give him that. “She was two months early. It can happen for any number of reasons. Tess passed out on the way to the hospital, a lot like this.” Raymond visibly swallowed.

“And everything turned out okay?” He asked, sounding as though he were desperate to hear a positive answer. It obviously had. Jesse was living proof of that. But Harry understood Raymond needed reassurance. Caitlin Snow was the love of his life, and that child meant everything to them both. They all heard someone shout from the hallway outside of the ballroom, ‘Paramedics are here!’

“Everything is going to be just fine.” He said firmly, then looked at Ramon. He was concentrating on Snow’s belly, and his jaw was clenching idly, like he was trying so hard to stave off the dread he was no doubt experiencing. Snow was too important to Cisco not to be. And as he looked around, he realized the sentiment held true for Jesse, Raymond, Allen, West… and himself. And as the paramedics rushed to Caitlin’s side and they all got out of the way, he let himself believe that everything really would be just fine, so they all could believe it, too...

Chapter 23: “Is that a Magic 8-ball?”

Chapter Text

‘Everything is going to be just fine.’

Those were the words that Cisco had been repeating over and over for the last two hours as they lingered in a waiting room off the emergency department. His jacket was draped over his lap, and he was stretched out in a chair, head on the wall, legs crossed at the ankles, hands curled around the arms as he ignored the TV on the wall. It was playing what looked like an infomercial for some sort of weighted blanket. But he was too focused on Harry to pay attention to it.

Jesse was sitting beside him, her shoes under her chair, her legs pulled up beneath her. She had her head against the wall, too. Barry was leaning against the wall beside him, arms crossed. Iris was pacing a little, doing something on her phone. And Harry was standing in the doorway, hands in his pockets, sharp blue eyes watching as people passed. Ronnie was the only one who’d been allowed to stay with Caitlin, which was understandable. But it was so hard to just sit there doing nothing, waiting for news. It was probably why Harry hadn’t sat at all.

Cisco studied the way his vest pulled a little at his strong shoulders, the still and steady way he barely moved much more than his head. He could see a tightness to his eyes, like he was trying very hard not to show everything he was feeling. And he had to be feeling so goddamn much.

First Tess shows up, and now this.

Maybe the 8-ball was bogus after all.

Cisco reached into his pocket, pulling it out, rolling it lightly in the center of his palm. He practically had the feel of it memorized by now. It seemed silly, carrying it around like this. And he couldn’t logically be mad at a toy for getting a ‘prediction’ wrong. But he paused it in his hand, staring at the painted white 8, and briefly thought about chucking it at a wall.

“Is that a Magic 8-ball?” Jesse asked, and he glanced at her. She looked curious but still solemn. And Cisco straightened a little in his chair, uncrossing his ankles as he held it out to her. She took it, turning it in the fingers of both hands. “I haven’t seen one of these in forever.” Her smile was small and she shook the ball a little. She didn’t ask a question out loud, but she nodded a little at the answer that appeared in the window. “Cannot predict now. Hm.” She lowered her hands to her lap, looking at him.

“They’re both going to be okay.” He knew she’d know he meant Caitlin and the baby. “So will you.” Her brows creased a little and she looked back down at the 8-ball. “Your Dad has your back, you know.”

“I know.” She nodded, glancing over at where Harry still stood across the room. “When I was little, I think like seven or eight, I asked him why I didn’t have a mom like other kids. I understood everyone had different kinds of families. And up until that point, I’d never really questioned that ours was a family of two, and that my mom was a woman whose face I only knew because of pictures. But what I didn’t understand was why it was like that in the first place.” She looked back at Cisco.

“He’s never lied to me about anything. And he tried really hard to explain to me what happened. But at that age, there were just some things I wasn’t going to understand and I got mad at him. I remember because he looked like he was in pain. He didn’t think I saw, but I did. I never asked again. I could have, he would have answered. But I didn’t.” She smiled softly before she passed the 8-ball back to Cisco, turning in her chair to face him better.

“Dad has never been very good at showing when he’s in pain, not because he thinks it makes him look weak or anything, but because I think he feels like he always has to be the one who keeps it together. When I turned thirteen, she called. Like she did every year. I knew it was her because he got that look again. And it was so fast, ya know? He turned away so I couldn’t see his face. But I knew just hearing her voice hurt him somehow.” She looked down at Cisco’s vest, the memory of it passing through her eyes. “That was the first time I figured out that, if the choice was ever given to me, I wouldn’t want to see her.” A soft sorrow filled her expression, and Cisco reached out, gripping her hand softly. She lifted her eyes and smiled a little.

“I know why she left. I know she thought she was doing the right thing. I know it wasn’t because she didn’t want me. But I also know… it still felt like she didn’t. It still felt like she abandoned me and Dad. Because she hurt him. She hurt him so badly that he convinced himself he wasn’t worth the effort, and he never wanted another serious relationship again… before you.” She put her other hand over his, holding it between both. “Dad is the most amazing, loving, attentive father I ever could have asked for. He taught me to tie my shoes and to read and to ride a bike. He went to every school play and would let me sleep in his bed when I had nightmares. When I hit puberty, he did research on pads and training bras to make sure he got the right ones.” She smirked at that, and Cisco smiled, because that seemed like a very Harry thing to do.

“He drove me nuts with his overprotectiveness when he intimidated my dates, and he was the first one in the front row when I graduated early. He helped me pack my car for college, and he was beyond encouraging when I told him I wanted to work with nanotech. He has always been… here.” She looked back at Harry again, then scooted a little closer to Cisco, resting her head on his shoulder. Cisco blinked ahead, not at all expecting that level of closeness so soon. But he wasn’t complaining. He quietly rested his cheek against her.

“Dad has been here. Not her.” She said clearly, “I don’t need a mom. I don’t want one. And I’m not sure I have it in me to be her friend. I know that sounds callous and mean, but it feels even truer now than it ever had before. And I feel… awful about that. About how I ran away from her. But I also don’t know how to change how I feel without letting her back into our lives. And I don’t want that for either of us.”

“You and your Dad are a lot alike, you know that?” Cisco said, smiling lightly. “So willing to feel bad about having legitimate emotions. I’m going to tell you what I told him… you don’t need to be sorry for being angry. You’re allowed to feel what you feel, no apology necessary. I know I’m an outsider in all this. And you can tell me to shut up.” He slipped the 8-ball back into his pocket, “But from what your Dad told me, I think your Mom really was trying to do right by you. So does he. That being said… it doesn’t mean it didn’t hurt you or your Dad. And that’s important to know and to feel. You’re allowed to draw the line where the hurt happened, you’re allowed to say you’re not willing to step back toward it.” Jesse was quiet for a long moment, then she let out a slow breath.

“You’re not an outsider, Cisco. You’re the other reason I don’t want her to come back.”

“What do you mean?” He lifted his head, and she lifted hers, looking at him.

“You saved him.”

“What?” Cisco furrowed his brows in confusion.

“You should ask him about the generator explosion if you haven’t already. About what he saw. And… I know you’re the one who ran into Dad all those months ago. You spilled coffee all over his suit. I remember I got frustrated with him because he’d changed into jeans and a t-shirt right before an interview. He told me that an ‘intriguing man’ had made the choice for him. And he had this smile on his face I’d never seen before.” She smiled at the thought. “After that, I saw that smile in small ways when he was lost in thought. It happened less and less over time, until Tuesday.” She looked back at her father.

“Dad has always been content. He’s always been present and grateful for his life. But you made him happy again. You don’t know what it took for him to get there.” She nodded absently, and Harry turned like he’d felt her eyes on him. His own eyes moved back and forth between them, and his features softened considerably at the sight of her holding on to Cisco’s hand. “I don’t want her to get in the way of everything you two are becoming.” She said very softly, assuring there was no chance Harry would hear.

“She won’t.” Cisco said just as softly, his heart fluttering a little at the fondness on Harry’s face. “That’s not what Harry wants.”

“What do you want?”

“Him.” He said easily, and then glanced at Jesse as she turned her head to look at him. Jesse smiled warmly, eyes a little wet.

“Good. Cause he wants you, too.”

“Hey,” Ronnie’s voice made everyone in the room instantly divert their attention, and Cisco let out a heavy breath, a little startled. He and Jesse both stood up and they all moved for the door. Harry had stepped back to let Ronnie come in. His jacket and tie were gone, his shirt sleeves were rolled up, he had red marks on his face like he’d been wearing a mask, and his hair was disheveled. “She’s okay. She’s wonderful, actually.” He said almost immediately, and everyone either sighed or smiled. “They’re saying it was maternal hypotension, due to vena cava compression. Which is gibberish to me.” He smiled sheepishly. “When Caitlin woke up, she said it’s just something that can happen. Baby was a little lethargic by the time she got here, but there was never any big danger and… the spotting was from her mucus plug popping.”

“Wait, doesn’t that mean-“ Iris clung to Barry, eyes going wide.

“She’s going to have the baby?!” Jesse blurted out. Ronnie smiled, nodding quickly.

“Actually, it means… with everything going on and the other complications she’s had with the pregnancy, the doctors and Caitlin decided it was best to do an immediate C-section.”

“No way.” Barry’s eyes got wide. “No way!”

“The baby’s here already?!” Cisco reached out with both hands, excitement flooding through him as he grabbed Barry’s arm, shaking his friend slightly.

“She’s beautiful.” Ronnie’s voice cracked, and his eyes lit up impossibly more. “Six pounds, four ounces. Head full of hair. I had to come tell you guys.” Ronnie couldn’t stop smiling. And Harry reached out, gripping his shoulder. “Everything turned out amazing. You were right, Doctor Wells.”

“Stop calling me that.” He squeezed Ronnie’s shoulder and smiled sincerely. “I told you before, it’s Harry.” Ronnie chuckled and then stepped right into Harry, pulling him into a tight hug. At first, Harry’s eyes went a little wide, then he returned the hug.

“Thank you.” Ronnie sounded as emotional as they all felt. “Really, for everything. Thank you.”

“Alright, okay…” Harry patted his shoulder, looking simultaneously happy and uncomfortable before he stepped back. Ronnie reached for Jesse then, hugging her next. And it went on, till they’d all been equally and thoroughly hugged. There was laughter, there were tears, there was complete relief and joy.

“We convinced the doctors to let you all come back to see them. They agreed you guys could have five minutes.” He stepped back into the hallway, “Actually, I don’t think they could say no to Caitlin. She’s practically running the place already.” They laughed, and Ronnie motioned down the hall.

None of them needed to be told twice to follow Ronnie. Caitlin was already sitting up in bed, looking exhausted and disheveled, but she was beaming. And beside her in an incubator was a tiny baby girl. They all crowded round, softly speaking to Caitlin and Ronnie. Except for Harry. Cisco saw him standing right in the doorway, hands in his pockets, watching with an unreadable expression on his face. Cisco thought he looked sad, but he couldn’t imagine why. This was a happy occasion, right?

“She looks so small.” Jesse whispered, peering into the glass. “Was I that small?” She asked, looking over at her father. Harry’s brows softened and he nodded once.

“Smaller, actually.” His voice almost faltered, and he looked around quietly after, feeling everyone’s eyes on him.

“Come here with us, Harry.” Caitlin said, and she held out a hand, wagging her fingers at him. Harry looked instantly like he might protest but Cisco walked up to him and grabbed him by the tie. He didn’t know what was going on with him, but he wasn’t going to let him miss out on this. Harry’s hands came flying out of his pockets and he stumbled forward a little. Cisco heard everyone chuckle or laugh a little. And Harry had to grab Cisco’s arm to right himself.

“Ramon,” He grumbled, tugging at his tie to get it out of his grip. “I can walk by myself.”

“Mm hm.” He replied, “I know.” He winked at Caitlin, not letting go till Harry was beside her. When Cisco finally let him loose, Harry grumpily smoothed out his tie and glared at him before Caitlin grabbed Harry’s hand.

“Ronnie told me what you did.” She said, peering up at him. Harry cleared his throat lightly before looking down at her.

“I didn’t do anything. You did all the hard work tonight.” His voice was as soft as his smile as he motioned to the incubator.

“You don’t get to do that, not with us.” Ronnie said, sounding far less tentative toward Harry than he usually sounded. Then Iris motioned around at all of them.

“You’re part of this family now, Harrison Wells.” She smirked at him.

“Yes, exactly.” Barry nodded, “And coming from her, that’s a promise and a threat.” Everyone chuckled except for Harry, whose jaw tightened and his eyes darted away at record speed. Cisco took his free hand, entwining their fingers, and Harry closed his eyes. Harry leaned into Cisco, tightening his hand around his.

“What’s her name?” He asked, opening his eyes and looking over at Jesse. Her eyes were glistening. He looked back down at Caitlin. Caitlin exhaled, wiping at a tear that rolled out of her eye. Ronnie ran his hand through her hair.

“Mirabelle Alexis.” She said thickly, emotionally. Harry nodded, pulling Caitlin’s hand up a bit in his own.

“Perfect.”

For the next several minutes, they all talked about how Mirabelle would need to be in the hospital for a little while. Her lungs weren’t fully capable yet, and the doctors wanted her to put on some more weight. But she was healthy and strong otherwise. Iris took about a million pictures, and Barry kept cracking jokes about how ‘Barriana’ would have made an amazing name. At one point, the staff had to pretty much strong arm them to leave, much to Caitlin’s chagrin. Despite how private this all should have been for her and Ronnie, in her mind it was a family affair. And she wanted them all to stay.

It was Harry who convinced her to rest, to take Sunday to just be with Ronnie and the baby, and recuperate. That if she wanted them to come visit on Monday, they would do so in shifts so she wouldn’t get overwhelmed. There was bound to be more than just their tight knit group visiting anyway. Like her mother and Ronnie’s parents, plus the myriad of other people in their lives.

It was almost three a.m. by the time they all cleared out.

“Who wants breakfast?” Barry chirped, swinging Iris’ arm idly by their joined hands.

“Uh, no.” She nudged him, “We are all going home to get some sleep. It’s been a long night. And one of us actually has to work on a Sunday.” She pointed to herself.

“Killjoy.” Barry winked. “Want a ride home, Jess?” He asked the younger Wells. She nodded while stifling a yawn.

“Yeah, yes. Absolutely. I’ll meet you guys at the Jeep.” She nodded. While Iris hugged Harry goodnight, Barry hugged Cisco.

“We’re uncles now.” He said softly, and the first hint of seriousness had settled into his tone, covered in happiness. He hugged Cisco a little tighter.

“Best uncles ever.” Cisco replied, watching as Iris pulled away from Harry who looked like he was slowly starting to get used to all the hugging. Barry nodded, eyes a little wet as he pulled back. Then he turned to Harry. “Bring it in.” He wagged his hands at him, and Harry’s face immediately turned stern, eyes darting up to the ceiling with a barely contained sigh before he stepped forward. Jesse chuckled earnestly as Barry dove in for the hug.

“If you speak of this to anyone, I will set your Jeep on fire.” Harry deadpanned, and everyone but Barry laughed as he pulled away from the hug. But Harry was smirking right after and he patted Barry on the shoulder. Cisco hugged Iris, and then they headed down the hall, leaving Harry, Jesse and Cisco behind.

“I, uh… I’ll give you two a minute.” Cisco thumbed awkwardly over his shoulder and began to turn, but Jesse grabbed him by the arm.

“No, wait, you don’t have to go.” She said, tugging him a little. “I wanted to tell you both something.” Cisco relented, glancing at Harry who just shrugged. “What happened with Mom tonight, I’m really sorry about that. But everything else was perfect.” She emphasized the word ‘perfect,’ glancing from Cisco to her father. “I love you so much, Dad. And I’m so happy for you.” Her voice cracked a little. “Please, promise me Mom isn’t going to ruin this.” She motioned to Cisco and Harry’s brows went up.

“Sweetheart, no,” He shook his head, reaching for her. She came very willingly, pressing her cheek to his chest and holding on. He turned his face down into her hair for a moment and simply breathed. And Cisco felt every good thing watching them. "I'm sorry for what happened tonight, too. And I promise you,” He flicked his eyes to Cisco, “Nothing’s been ruined.” She sighed against him, eyes closed and he swayed her softly for a moment. “It’s late. You need to sleep.” He pulled back from her, but held her face in his hands for a moment before he kissed her forehead. “Go on. I’ll call you tonight.” She nodded, smiling tiredly, then turned into Cisco and hugged him tight before she too disappeared down the hall.

Cisco focused on the sounds. Beeping of a monitor. A nurse talking on a phone about lab work. A cart being pushed from one room to the next. The ever-present hum of machines and ventilation. And a baby crying softly from somewhere down the hall. And he smiled, glancing at the man now standing beside him. Harry was staring down the hall, to the bend where Jesse had disappeared from.

“Ya know… I asked the 8-ball if tonight would be amazing.” Harry blinked and looked down at him, brows slightly knit, brilliant blues studying his features. “It said ‘you may rely on it.’ So… I did. And it was absolutely right.” He fished the ball out of his pocket and held it out. For a moment, Harry didn’t move. Then he carefully took it out of Cisco’s palm. “Why don’t you hold onto it for a while? Might just come in handy for you, too.”

“Ramon,” Harry sighed.

“Humor me, honey.” Cisco smiled, and Harry looked at him ruefully before putting the 8-ball in his own pocket.

“We’re using pet names now, hm.” He stated, then he leaned down and kissed him. And Cisco was left blinking lazily, smiling at the lingering feel.

“You started it.”

“I did not.”

“Yes you did.” Cisco took his hand and they both began walking. “When you were making me useless in your bed.” He said nonchalantly, just as a nurse passed. Harry was quiet, some sort of thought process working behind those genius eyes of his as they stopped at the elevator and waited for the doors to open. But before it did, he turned into Cisco and slipped both hands over his cheeks, fingers gliding straight into his hair, and he kissed him. Oh, sh*t, did he kiss him. Slow, and sensuous, and so deep. Right there in the hospital hallway where anyone at all could see. When Harry damn near tenderly disconnected their mouths, Cisco could admit that he felt a little heated, a little more longing than was called for at three in the morning. But what he saw on Harry’s face made that entirely worth it.

“I fully plan on making you useless again, beautiful.” He whispered, pressing one more soft kiss to his mouth just as the doors dinged and began to open. Then Harry gently slipped away, stepping into the elevator and holding the door open. Cisco had to blink a few times to get his brain back in gear. Feet, move! He should give himself a gold star for figuring out that walking was still a thing he knew how to do. Wonderful, crazy, downright insane ideas began to flood his mind, however. And he looked at Harry, lifting a finger.

“Wait… just… wait one minute.” He turned away quickly, hurrying back the way they’d come, leaving Harry standing there looking bewildered. Cisco moved as fast as he dared, stopping at an unmanned supply cart he’d seen just outside an empty room. And he looked around momentarily before snatching off the top of it, slipping it into his pocket as he hurried back toward the elevator. Harry shook his head at him, looking confused. “Had to grab something.” Cisco commented in way of explanation. The doors began to close, and Cisco pressed the button for the parking garage without looking, just before invading Harry’s space, pushing him firmly into the wall, and kissing him hungrily as the elevator began to descend…

Chapter 24: “Where did that come from?”

Chapter Text

The parking garage was emptier than when they’d gotten there. The SUV was parked several rows away, which was almost a bad thing because it meant they had to keep separating from each other to see where they were going. He wasn’t sure what exactly Ramon had in mind, but Cisco had managed to undo his vest and had loosened his tie halfway there. By the time they got to the vehicle, Harry’s pants were a little too tight for comfort and his mind was reeling with all the possibilities of where this was leading.

“Unlock it,” Cisco mumbled against his mouth, Harry’s back now pressed into the driver’s side door. He rifled in his pocket for his keys, knowing by feel when he found the unlock button. A beep and a series of clicks was heard, and then Cisco grabbed him by the belt, pulling him away from the SUV before he reached for the back door, yanking it open. f*ck, his dark eyes were darker now, the look on his face speaking myriads about all the things he wanted. And Harry was all for it. He wasn’t even sure how they were going to manage what came next, not yet. But he was absolutely willing to take Ramon’s lead. “Get in with me.” He ordered just before he let him go and sat down in the seat, scooting backward. sh*t. Harry’s dick damn near twitched at the sight of him and he heaved a breath before crawling in over him, reconnecting their mouths as he fumbled for the door, closing it behind them. He was suddenly very glad he had tinted windows.

It was cramped quarters, even in an SUV. But Cisco had his legs up and bent at the knee, and he was desperately shoving at Harry’s clothes like he couldn’t get at his flesh fast enough. Harry pressed their groins together, dragging a moan out of Ramon’s luscious mouth. It was then he felt something odd in Cisco’s pocket, an out of place shape. And Ramon seemed to remember there was something there, too, because he shifted his position a little and shoved his hand into his pocket, pulling it out. When he showed Harry what it was, they both laughed.

“That’s stealing, Ramon.” Harry said lightly, taking the half full bottle of medical lube out of his hand. Cisco shrugged, pushing at Harry’s shirt.

“It’s for a damn good cause.” He helped Harry pull out of it, somehow managing to leave his tie half undone and still hanging around his neck. Cisco shuttered a little beneath him, licking his lips in a slow line. “You’re keeping that on.” He said, fixing it slowly, leaving it just loose enough around Harry’s neck. “f*ck, you’re gorgeous.” And he grabbed the middle of the tie and pulled Harry back down.

It took some doing to get them both nude. There were bumped knees and more than a little laughter, and at one point Harry was sitting on the floor. But then things started to take on a much more intelligent purpose as Harry used that position and the pilfered lube to start working Cisco open.

Just like before, Cisco’s hole was so damn tight around his fingers. Heated like a fire, twitching like every single touch was almost too much stimulation. And Cisco relaxed into the stretching as though his life depended on it, one hand clinging to the back of the seat, the other in Harry’s hair. His fingers were moving, almost in time with Harry’s, a ghostly sensation in his unruly strands. But after a few minutes, it was clear Ramon did not seem to have the patience for necessity.

“Just… please… just come here.” He half-whispered, sounding languid and needy at the same time.

“You’re not quite there yet.” Harry reminded, feeling his own groin aching, eyes greedily watching what he was doing to his lover.

“I know. I d-don’t care. I don’t. I want you right now. I’m ready.” His fingers gripped onto Harry’s hair, then, no longer a ghostly touch and far more demanding. Harry slipped a third finger in with the first two, straight to the knuckle, testing that statement. And Cisco cried out, body arching into the seat. “Oh, f*ck!” He swore, breathing heavier, proof enough that Harry had been right. Or so he thought until Cisco reached down and grabbed his hand, pulling his fingers out of himself and sitting up.

Instantly, he was kissing Harry, expertly maneuvering him to change places like they had done this a million times before in the backseat of an SUV, with the air growing stuffy and the tinted windows getting fogged. And before he knew it, he was sitting on the seat and Cisco was in his lap, a hand wrapped around Harry’s co*ck.

“I want this, I want this…” Ramon whispered, eyes wide and forehead stuck to Harry’s. He used his free hand to pour more of the lube onto Harry’s dick. Then he rose up a little. Harry felt Ramon position himself over Harry’s dick. He was not going to argue with him. It was pretty f*cking clear that Cisco knew exactly what he was doing.

“sh*t,” Harry panted out, hands curling around to Ramon’s ass, spreading his cheeks. And Ramon whined, making Harry’s groin pinch with demand, just before he began to lower himself down onto Harry’s shaft. Cisco’s eyes fluttered shut and his head went back, his neck exposed, his mouth set in an ‘o’ shape. Lower, lower he went, both hands moving to the seat and gripping on, lower still until he was completely settled in Harry’s lap and his co*ck was sheathed entirely inside Cisco. Ramon was panting heavily, face stuck in a position of something that looked like equal parts pleasure and pain. And Harry was in too much awe and ecstasy to comment. Cisco’s insides were on fire, and so f*cking tight.

Then Ramon moved, sliding Harry partially out. He made a sound like a sob, like it was too good or too much or maybe both. And Harry lost the ability to rationalize that Ramon should wait, because then Cisco was driving himself back down, moaning without a single bit of composure. And before Harry knew it, the man in his lap found a rhythm that was almost instantly far too much and not enough. Harry’s fingers dug into each ass cheek, head falling back, eyes squeezing shut at everything. All of him. The feel and the sound and the smell. Cisco was half whining with every thrust. And Harry wanted him to be the one to control all this, he really did. But then Ramon grabbed his chin and made him look at him.

“f*ck me, honey, right now.”

How in the hell would he ever be able to argue with that?

“f*cking hell, Ramon.” Harry breathed out, hands moving directly to Cisco’s hips and holding him in place. And he simply began thrusting up into him with all the intensity he felt, hard and fast, following orders without hesitation. Cisco’s forehead instantly flopped forward onto Harry’s shoulder, the muscles in his legs and arms tensing at every impact.

“Oh, sh*t, harder… please, go harder…” he whimpered against Harry’s skin.

“I didn’t know…” Harry’s eyes closed, teeth gritting as he focused on the pressure in his groin and the gripping of Cisco’s walls. “f*ck, I didn’t know.” Ramon moaned, his hand coming down between them. He gripped himself in time with Harry’s thrusts. Cisco’s whole body was trembling from the impacts and the strain, but neither one of them stopped. “I love this side of you.” Harry said, and then moaned a little himself at the way Ramon’s mouth settled around the muscle in Harry’s shoulder, teeth digging in and pulling a little more than they should, like he needed some other way to grip, like he was fighting against a multitude of pleasure and pain.

His teeth digging in like that hurt, and would no doubt leave a welt or two, which Harry was all for in that moment. Sometimes, he loved the pain when it was like this… tangled in the vines of rapture, flowers weaved in among thorns. And he felt the pressure in his groin damn near take him apart. He slammed up into Cisco two more times, holding his hips firmly in place, nails digging crescents into his skin as he groaned out ragged and wanton, pulsing inside of him. f*ck, he came so hard that even Cisco cried out a little at the feel. Ramon’s mouth let up, and the pace on his own co*ck began to slow. But that just wouldn’t do, no.

“Give me this.” Harry shook out a breath, still feeling himself twitching as he moved one hand to grab Cisco by the hair, tugging him backwards roughly, definitely enough to hurt. Ramon whined out immediately, eyes very wet and wide as his neck exposed and his scalp pulled, throat working as he swallowed, and Harry grabbed his co*ck with the other hand, picking up the pace instantly.

“Ah, please, please!” Cisco begged loudly, voice ragged, and if Harry hadn’t already come, that would have been more than enough to make him do it. He kept his fingers gripped in Cisco’s hair, possibly too tight, and he watched as Ramon’s flushed chest heaved while his hands wound tightly around Harry’s arms. He pulsed him over and over, faster, until Ramon’s face twisted in desperate need and he finally came with a strangled sound. He spurted into Harry’s hand, on his own stomach, and a little onto Harry’s as well. A tear rolled out of each of Cisco’s closed eyes, and he nearly slumped in Harry’s hold, his hair pulling more in Harry’s grip when the last of what he had to give slipped down the back of Harry’s hand.

“That’s it, beautiful, I’ve got you.” Harry whispered, hand stilling on his dick, the other loosening a little in his hair, mindful not to let go completely until he was sure Cisco wouldn’t fall right over. Ramon swayed, swallowing, blinking his wet eyes open slowly. And Cisco’s hands fell to either side of them. His breathing was labored, and he looked blissed out, lost on a high that was better than any drug could have promised.

“I… I’m just…” he breathed, then he pressed his forehead into Harry’s, and Harry gently untangled his fingers completely from his hair, smoothing his palm down the back of Ramon’s head. Whatever he was going to say seemed to disappear, words left unfinished as aches began to make themselves known. No doubt far more for Ramon than for Harry. If this kept up, they were going to burn each other out.

“Where did that come from?” Harry whispered, not wanting to break the muffled silence too much, but needing to know. Ramon closed his eyes and made a soft hum. Harry could feel himself shrinking inside of him, slowly beginning to slip out. But neither of them moved otherwise.

He never saw this coming. He never would have thought Cisco liked his pleasure mixed with pain. Not after everything he’d told Harry about Reed. And he knew there was no way Ramon hadn’t felt pain during all of that. He hadn’t been stretched nearly enough, and Harry had taken his permission to f*ck him and ran with it. Which meant Cisco was going to be sore as hell later if he wasn’t already.

Harry, on the other hand, knew he was very able and willing to give and to take. He’d known it for decades. There was a rush, a simple and instinctual form of ecstasy, attached to the act of giving and receiving pain while giving and receiving pleasure. It was carnal and addictive, with a level of trust and care rooted throughout that Harry had rarely dared to let himself experience with anyone.

When Ramon had started all this, he’d wanted to question it. Maybe to stop it. But he also meant every word of what he’d told Ramon before. He’d never use him, never control him. Letting Cisco make these choices for his body was paramount. And it had become quickly clear that Ramon needed all the same things Harry did. Wasn’t that proof enough of how matched they were?

“Ramon…” Harry whispered.

“You’re asking…” Cisco finally whispered back. “Why I wanted it rough like that?”

“Yes.”

“I, uh…” he swallowed a little, shivering slightly as Harry slipped out of him completely. “I figured out awhile back that… sometimes I like pain. Maybe even need it, a little.” He lifted his head, opening his eyes. For the first time since this started, Harry could see uncertainty there. “Not all the time, but sometimes.” He added, like he was trying to rationalize it, or make it sound less awful than someone else had obviously made Ramon think it was. “I know it doesn’t make sense. With what I went through…” His eyes fell to the tie still settled around Harry’s neck. He put his fingers on it, smoothing down the material. “I’m sorry, I got carried away. I shouldn’t have-“ Harry lifted his hand, curling a finger beneath Ramon’s chin and urging him to look back up.

“Do not ever be sorry.” He said clearly, searching his eyes. “You don’t need a reason, or an excuse for what you find pleasure in.” He searched Ramon’s gaze, “Let me make something very clear… I loved every second of that.” He touched his own aching shoulder, feeling the sting of Cisco’s bite beneath his fingertips. “If we both hadn’t wanted this, I wouldn’t have done it. And this was…” he sighed out, shaking his head, “Incredible. Everything about you is incredible.” Soft relief lit up Ramon’s eyes. “Remember how I don’t like surprises?” Harry smirked a little. “You are a surprise I will never complain about.”

“That’s good to know.”

“Maybe we should talk about what the boundaries and the rules are later, for… when ‘sometimes’ strikes one of us again.” Harry said and Cisco chuckled before letting out a soft hum and kissing Harry lightly.

“There’s still so much we don’t know about each other, isn’t there.”

“Yes, but I am enjoying every moment of our education.” Harry winked, and Cisco laughed again before easing himself slightly off Harry’s lap. He winced a little, but then settled his head on the seatback.

“Got anything we can clean up with?” He asked, sliding his hand along Harry’s stomach, eyes moving around the stuffy insides of the vehicle. Harry awkwardly pulled his pants on, shrugging on his shirt in the close quarters without bothering to button it. It would be very easy for anyone to see what he was walking out of. And he honestly didn’t care. He slipped his shoes on and opened the door, careful not to expose Ramon as he made his way to the trunk. He lifted the tailgate, smiling at Cisco’s ruffled hair popping up over the back seat. He rifled through his go bag for a pack of wipes that he kept for quick cleaning, taking a few before handing the rest over the seat to Cisco. He wiped his own hands, but didn’t bother with his clothes. They were going to have some serious laundry to do.

“Whose bed do you wanna sleep in?” Cisco asked, wiping himself without looking anywhere but Harry, who paused at the fact it seemed like there was no possible way Ramon would even consider sleeping without him now. And he smiled slowly.

“I’ll sleep in a ditch as long you’re with me.” He remarked and Cisco smiled fondly.

“My place is closer.” Ramon said, and that was all the answer either one of them needed. Once they were as clean as they were going to get, dressed in rumpled suit shirts and pants, Harry drove them out of the parking garage feeling exhausted in every good way. Cisco held his hand as they went, eyes closed with a soft smile perpetually lingering on his reddened lips. And every now and then, Harry stole glimpses of the city lights illuminating the beauty of his tanned features.

Nothing about tonight had turned out like Harry had planned. Not Tess, not the scare with Caitlin, or her beautiful baby girl. Not the bubble of closeness and family that everyone around him seemed determined to keep him inside of.

Hell, nothing since the moment he’d agreed to go out with Ramon had turned out in any way he could have predicted. But every revelation, every surprise, every moment of quiet and upset and affection was everything Harry wanted and more. Not even seeing Tess again had deterred that truth. Because now he was sitting next to his forever, and he knew it.

Every fiber of his being was blissfully accepting of that knowledge. And though Tess was bound to be a complication, there was nothing that could get in the way of this, no one that could make him want anyone else. And when they got to Cisco’s apartment close to four thirty in the morning, stripped down and curled up naked in the dark beneath Ramon’s mismatched covers, Harry fell asleep knowing he was finally holding the only person who had ever made him feel complete. He was never going to let go…

Chapter 25: “We have been a bit vigorous.”

Chapter Text

Brian watched from the fence near the alley as the light went off in Cisco’s apartment. He’d seen the look on his face. He remembered that look. It was the soft boned and moldable kind of tired that lingered on his features after sex, the pure glow of the aftermath of rapture. Proof that Wells had done things to him that no one but Brian had ever been allowed to. Hate, just as pure, spread through his body like an electric current at the realization. Hate so strong that he almost threw his plans out the window because of it.

He wished he could say it was simply because Cisco had found someone new. But there was more to it than that. Why, oh f*cking why, did it have to be him?! Doctor Harrison Wells, the most important person in Central City. Hell, one of the most important people in the country. Cisco was having some serious illusions of grandeur. Wells was probably just using Cisco for what all three of them now knew he was good at. He’d probably get bored with him, leave him broken and wanting. It was only half of what Cisco deserved… and yet the idea that Wells was doing anything with Cisco at all was almost too much to handle. But he’d been patient this long. He could be patient a little longer. He went back to the car and set an alarm, then he put the seat back, closing his eyes as the sound of an early morning rain pelted the hard metal and cold glass.

Let them sleep, he thought. Let them have this little bit of peace. Let Cisco think he’d found something worth keeping. And when the time came, Brian would give Cisco exactly what he deserved. He would tear everything down. He would decide when they were done…

* * *

They were both still mostly asleep when Harry’s phone went off, the ringer loud enough to make them both jump a little. Harry instantly winced a little as the muscles in his back pulled tight, and he blinked his eyes open at the sunlit apartment, frowning before turning onto his aching back and rubbing his face with his hands. Cisco groaned and shoved his face into his pillow, folding the ends up to block the sound from his ears.

“Kill it with fire.” Harry heard Ramon mumble loudly, and he smiled instantly, dropping his hands to either side of himself before pushing up to a sitting position. He had to reach entirely over Cisco to grab his phone off the nightstand, half lying on top of him. Ramon made a growling noise, which was pretty damn cute. And Harry decided he was going to stay just like that if he had to answer that damn thing. However, he didn’t recognize the number.

It wasn’t Tess. Which was typically what an unknown number meant. She’d already said her number wasn’t changing again. And his cell number was not public knowledge. Only those who really needed it had access. So, who the hell was this? Ramon turned his head when he realized Harry wasn’t answering it.

“Who is it?” Cisco breathed out, relaxing beneath him. Harry showed him the screen.

“I have no idea.” He remarked, letting it ring straight through to voicemail. He was about to set it back on the nightstand when it started ringing again. “f*cking hell.” He groused, sitting up completely and hitting answer, then he held it to his ear. Cisco turned onto his side, sliding a warm hand down Harry’s chest. “What?” He demanded, and Ramon smirked lazily.

There was no reply. No answer. At first Harry thought the phone hadn’t actually connected. But then he heard a car passing in the background, and a very slow breath. He pulled the phone away from his ear, glancing back at the screen before he hung up.

“Ya know, I thought the others were making it up, but you really don’t like talking on the phone.” Cisco mused, and Harry shook his head a little.

“I think someone butt dialed me.” He tossed the phone onto the bed, instantly feeling like he missed something but not nearly awake enough to care what that might be. “It’s too damn early in the morning for that.” He sighed out. And Ramon’s eyes darted toward the fridge across the apartment. He giggled… actually freaking giggled, then stretched himself out before relaxing with his own heavy sigh.

“It’s eleven.” He motioned with one lazy hand. Harry looked over at the digital clock on the fridge and leaned back on his elbows.

“Huh.” He looked back at Cisco. “That’s… surprising.”

“Never slept in that late?”

“No.”

“To be fair, we were up till almost five this morning, I think.”

“Doesn’t matter. I’m usually up with the sun. You’re making me lazy.” Harry turned into him, moving the covers enough to get them skin to skin, settling right on top. Ramon easily spread his legs, letting Harry settle in between, and he smiled as he slipped his hands over Harry’s flesh, one sliding down his rear, toward his thigh and slowly back up.

“It’s Sunday. You better be lazy. I know I’m gonna be.” Cisco gave him a quick kiss. “In fact, I vote that we sleep in even longer. Till, like… noon-thirty.”

“Stop making up words, Ramon.” He lifted a hand, sliding it through Cisco’s very messy hair. “And there was already work I didn’t get done yesterday because of you.” He reminded, and Ramon grinned, entirely unapologetic.

“I am not sorry for making you enjoy life.”

“Mm,” He kissed him chastely, “You are certainly guilty of that.” Cisco kept smiling, closing his eyes at the feel of Harry’s hand stroking his hair. “How are you feeling?” He asked, and Ramon sighed, settling his arms completely around him.

“Exactly like I’d expect to feel. I think the rear entrance is out of commission and Little Ramon is down for the count for a little while.” He replied, and Harry smirked, huffing a light laugh. It was so ridiculous. Good god, he loved that man.

“We have been a bit vigorous.”

“Three times in a day? I’d say that’s more than a bit.”

“It’s hardly a record.” He pushed up, and Cisco opened his eyes, immediately tightening his arms.

“Ack, no, you are not leaving this bed.”

“I am unless you want me to pee in this bed.” He remarked. And Ramon squinted ruefully before relenting and letting him go. Harry shook his head in amusem*nt and kissed him softly before pulling the covers back and standing up. He stretched himself, feeling his back protest a little. Having sex in the SUV had been exhilarating, but he was paying for it, his old injury not happy with him.

“I told you that you’re gorgeous, right?” Cisco commented softly, and Harry turned to look at him. He looked tender, eyes gentle. Harry bent over, feeling his back pull, placing a hand to either side of Cisco and meeting him face to face. “Cause you are. You really, really are.”

“Careful, Ramon. You’re going to end up feeding my ego.” He said softly, tasting his delicious mouth for a long lingering moment. Then he pulled back enough to see him without going cross eyed. “Take a shower with me, beautiful.” Immediately, Ramon’s eyes glistened, like that one term of endearment was enough to feed his heart forever. “Then come with me to work. I want to show you something you haven’t seen before.” He stood up, holding his hands out for Cisco to take. “And before you say anything, yes… work on a Sunday. But it’ll be worth it. I promise you.” Something about that made Ramon’s eyes grow even softer, and his expression took on a content quality right before he put his hands into Harry’s, letting him pull him to his feet.

“Work on a Sunday…” He sighed dramatically, “You’re a bad influence.”

“Says the man who wants to sleep in till noon-thirty.”

“I thought you said that wasn’t a word.”

“Maybe it is now.” He pulled Cisco forward, then turned him by the shoulders before nudging him toward the bathroom. Ramon laughed lightly. Harry gave his backside a good once over, inhaling slowly.

“I’m peeing first.”

“Wait, that’s not fair, I said it first.” Harry declared, but Cisco flashed a grin at him and ducked in quickly, closing the door. Harry chuckled and shook his head. “You’re going to be impossible to live with, aren’t you.” He called a little louder.

“You love every minute of it, and you know it.” He heard Ramon call from the other side of the closed door. Harry looked down as he felt something soft rub up against his bare leg. The cat was purring loudly, making passes back and forth. And Harry nodded to himself.

“Yes, I do.” He said softly.

And he felt it.

He felt it deep in his chest, somewhere he couldn’t place, somewhere he hadn’t seen the full depth of before. It made him wonder for the first time in his very factual, scientific, truth-riddled life if soulmates actually existed. Because there he was, feeling an invisible string that had been wrapped around his heart and connected straight to Ramon. Six days. Only six days and he was unbelievably and permanently his. It had happened so remarkably fast. And… he hadn’t fought a single moment of it. It made no sense.

In fact, the finality of what Ramon had become for him sounded so insane that he was pretty sure he couldn’t explain it out loud. At least not yet. Not until more time had passed. Others might need more time to get used to the idea. But… Harry didn’t. He wanted this, every last crazy moment of it. And he wanted it for the rest of his life. He felt like he’d lived more in the last week than he had in years. How the hell would he ever be able to let go of that?

He heard the shower start up, and he made his way into the bathroom. Cisco was humming loudly in the shower, the curtain closed and hiding him from view. Steam had already built up and Harry inhaled it, the fresh smell of coconut shampoo settling into his lungs. And it settled him before he took his turn at the toilet.

When he finally stepped into the shower, Cisco had his eyes squeezed shut, hands working shampoo through his long hair. He reached up with both hands and moved Ramon’s out of the way. The shorter man stilled, but smiled without looking, letting Harry finish the work. They spent the next several minutes just bathing each other. It was definitely something Harry enjoyed. After Cisco had thoroughly soaped Harry up, they switched places so he could rinse himself off.

Ramon’s hands moved down Harry’s back almost immediately, thumbs kneading the flesh along his spine. And Harry closed his eyes at the feel, curling his back a bit and pressing his palms into the tile, hanging his head a little as the water poured against his neck and down his body. Ramon’s hands kept going, stopping near the scar. His aching muscles responded immediately to the attention of Cisco’s strong fingers trying to ease the strain.

“You looked sore when you got out of bed.” Cisco said softly, “Does it do that a lot?”

“Yes. I can’t always prevent it. My doctor’s say,” he sighed heavily, “I may need another surgery in a few years, because of the pain. But I can live with this for now.” He felt Ramon’s fingers trace the edges of the scar, over the tight skin, right before Cisco came closer. He pressed a kiss into Harry’s wet spine, then his hands slid completely around his body. His arms tightened around Harry’s middle, and the front of his body was pressed to the back of Harry’s.

“Do you ever think about that day?” He asked softly. “About what happened?” Harry dropped a hand to Ramon’s arm, smoothing through the wetness, slipping his fingers over Cisco’s.

“It’s hard not to. I try to forget, but… I’ve got a permanent ache that reminds me every day that I almost died.” He lifted his head, straightening up, but keeping his eyes closed, hugging Ramon’s arms to himself. Cisco settled further into him. “It’s strange how I remember it. Some of it makes no sense in my head. Some of it is very clear. And some of it I don’t remember at all.” He blinked his eyes open, staring ahead at the white tile of Ramon’s shower.

“One thing I remember… the paramedics put me sideways on the gurney, and it was disorienting for some reason. As though it was the world that had gone sideways and not me. When they were wheeling me out of the building, Jesse appeared. I don’t even remember how she’d gotten there. Afterward, she’d said she’d been there most of the day. She was in my office when the explosion happened. But I couldn’t recall her being there until that moment. And she looked…” He shook his head a little, trying to find the best description. “Destroyed. I remember trying to ask her if she was alright, but she said I never spoke. She rode with me in the ambulance. And I remember her crying, holding my hand. She begged me not to die. I swore I told her that… I wasn’t going anywhere. It was the last thing I can recall before I woke up in the hospital.”

“Were you…” Cisco was so quiet that Harry almost didn’t hear him over the spray of the water. “Were you afraid?” He finally finished, pressing his lips back into Harry’s skin right after.

“I was terrified.” He said quietly, “And furious because, even though I apparently hadn’t said it out loud, I’d still lied to her.”

“Lied?”

“I told her I wasn’t going anywhere. But I knew the moment I’d ended up face down on that grate that I was going to die. Between the pain, the numbness, the lack of control.” He turned then, and Ramon let him, till they were face to face. “I believed completely that I was as good as dead. I think… I even accepted it. I’d never been so afraid or so understanding of what death meant before that. As stupid as it sounds, when I woke up and realized I was alive, I hated myself for giving into it so easily.” He sighed a little, searching Cisco’s gaze.

“You can’t hate yourself for that.” Ramon said, “Trust me on that one. I know how it feels.”

“What you went through is objectively far worse.” Harry lifted his hands to Ramon’s hair, smoothing it back, stroking the wetness of his cheeks.

“It sounds like it felt exactly the same.” He sighed through his nostrils. “The way you described it.” Harry slid his hands down to his shoulders, then to his upper arms, and Cisco searched his eyes. “I also think you had a worse time healing than I did.”

“How so?”

“All the surgeries and rehab you mentioned. I was out of the hospital a lot quicker than you. And you’re still feeling it. I healed up completely.”

“That doesn’t mean your recovery was easier.” Harry said softly, and Cisco smiled a little.

“You mean mentally? Emotionally?” Cisco asked, and Harry nodded a little. “That did take a really long time. I still go to therapy once a month. Which… wow…”

“Wow?”

“That was really easy to admit to you.” He smiled a little brighter, then he leaned up and kissed Harry lightly, his lips both wet and warm. “So, does it get… bad?”

“Does what get bad?”

“Your back. Does it get worse than just achy and stiff?” He questioned, Harry nodded lightly.

“Only if I’m not careful.”

“Is it bad now?” Cisco’s voice had gotten softer.

“Not very.” He smiled reassuringly at him. “I’m alright, Ramon. I promise. I’m good with this ache. And it’s going to take a lot more than sex in a car to make it worse.” He winked at him and Cisco laughed instantly, flopping his head forward to Harry’s shoulder. Yes, he was sore. But that was hardly what he’d call pain. And he’d gladly take that soreness in exchange for every blissful moment he’d shared with Cisco. “Besides, I think you’re probably a bit achier than I am right now.”

“Maybe a little. But it’s worth it.” Ramon admitted, his hands sliding up Harry’s back. “You said you wanted to talk about the boundaries and rules.”

“Only when you’re ready to.”

“When I’m ready to?” He lifted his head, amusem*nt dancing on his features. “Harry, we literally worked each other into morning-after-aches, and have been standing in a hot shower for twenty minutes. I think I’m ready.” Harry smirked. “Besides,” he lifted his hand to the very clear bruise that had settled into Harry’s skin on his shoulder, fingers gingerly touching the three small welts along the curve of it. “I think we both need to list some boundaries and rules, don’t you?”

“Mm.” He tilted his head a little. “You first.”

“Not fair.” He slid his fingers down to Harry’s chest, resting his palm there. “So… okay…” He furrowed his brows a little, “I have no idea how to start this.”

“Have you ever had this discussion before?”

“Um… once.” He shrugged, looking down at Harry’s sternum. “I never really let anyone know I liked certain things until… Brian.” His dark eyes took on a serious glint, “I used to think it was wrong. To want pain like that. I mean… it’s never been an all the time thing. It’s only an occasional urge. But that didn’t make it seem any less strange, mostly because no one I was with seemed to have the same kind. Brian was the first guy that did. Or at least the first who was willing to… do things. That was before I knew what he really was, though. Before he used it against me. And before he twisted it for himself.”

“The more I hear about him, the more I wish I could have killed him myself.” Harry grit out. Ramon’s eyes darted up and he cracked a light smile. “That aside,” he cleared his throat a little, “It’s not wrong. I used to think the same thing, but I learned quite a bit about myself in college. Like you, I don’t want it all the time. But I do want it. Both to take and to give. And only with permission.”

“You definitely have my permission.” Cisco said emphatically. Harry smirked.

“How did you know?” Harry asked then, and Ramon lifted his brows a little. “In the SUV. How did you know I would want to?”

“I didn’t.” Cisco admitted softly, then shifted a little on his feet, “I did get carried away. I couldn’t help it. I should have had better control of myself, I know that. But I am so, so lost on you, Harry.” He breathed out that last part, then wrapped his arms completely around him, “The moment I realized you were all for it… Harry, I’ve never trusted anyone so much. In that moment, I fully believed you wouldn’t do anything I didn’t want. I knew you would never use what I wanted against me. And that made it so much more… wonderful.”

“I’d give you anything.” Harry half-whispered, “And I’d let you take even more.” He meant it, every word of it. And he knew Ramon could see the truth of it, because Cisco’s expression became awed in a heartbeat.

“How do you exist?” He whispered, brown eyes constantly sweeping over his, “I wish I’d found you first, before anyone else.”

“So do I,” he whispered back, “But we’re here now. You said so yourself.”

“I did, didn’t I.” Ramon nodded, then he smiled a little sheepishly. “Okay, so,” he cleared his throat softly, “Boundaries and rules… I don’t really have a long list of specifics. When the urge hits me, I like to feel generalized pain. Not permanent, not anything close to what could be thought of as BDSM, right? But… I like being manhandled and gripped tightly. Especially my hair, which… you figured out fast.” He blushed a little, like he was remembering how it had felt, then continued.

“I like being held down, and how it feels to be pounded into hard and fast. Like you did in the parking garage. I know you were worried about not stretching me enough, but I like that, too, sometimes. I, um…” he looked at the bite mark on Harry’s shoulder, “I like bruises being left behind, from hands or teeth. Not bad ones, nothing that breaks skin, but ones that are more like reminders. I like toys, hard ones, used pretty roughly. I like being overpowered. And I like being spoken to during all of it… not dirty talk, but… like you do. I think that’s why the phone sex with you was so easy.” Cisco smiled with a small huff of a breath, “Sorry, was that a lot?”

“Nope.” Harry shook his head. “Eidetic memory,” He lifted his hand to his temple and tapped once, “Already permanently remembered.” Ramon chuckled.

“That’s not fair. What if I can’t remember all your likes?”

“Oh, I’m simple.” He turned Ramon, resting his back into the tile. Cisco shivered a little, and Harry smiled knowingly, looking him over before he pressed forward into him, sliding his hand through his hair. They were both beginning to get hard, talking about all this. It would have been difficult not to. “The boundaries are the same as yours. No permanent marks. No blood. But the rest?” He rested their foreheads together, then shifted their hips together, their dicks sliding slickly one to the other. “Bite me, bruise me, use every inch of me up, beautiful. However you want.”

“H-however I want…” Cisco whispered shakily, “Just like that?” Harry hummed out a soft ‘mm hm’ and a nearly violent shiver raced through Cisco’s body. “What about something I’ve never done before? I’ve always been a bottom, but-“

“I’ve always been a top. But for you? With you?” Harry interrupted, “You can take me anytime you want.” Harry’s breath came out quick at the idea. “Whenever the mood strikes you, just let me know.”

“Holy sh*t.” Ramon panted out, his own groin moving into Harry’s. “The mood is striking. I know I said earlier that Little Ramon was down for the count, but I think my body has other plans right now.” Harry smiled lightly.

“We are going to be so damn sore, neither one of us is going to be walking straight.” Harry joked and Ramon laughed.

“It’s a good thing neither one of us is straight, then.” He said softly, then kissed him. Cisco’s hand reached out, rifling around for something. The shower suddenly stopped, and Harry pulled away to drag the curtain back. They stepped out, kissing and groping, bumping awkwardly into each other as they went, both laughing as they stumbled over each other and managed their way out the door. They didn’t bother with drying off, dripping water damn near everywhere as Ramon maneuvered them both to the bed, nudging Harry down on it. He pushed himself back, and Cisco crawled over him, reconnecting their mouths with a barely contained smile just before grinding their groins together.

“I don’t want it rough, not this time, I just… I want you.” Cisco panted against his mouth, and Harry sighed heavily, sliding both hands up Ramon’s wet form.

“I’m all yours, Ramon.”

“Harrison Wells,” his voice sounded tight, strained with a surging need, “I know it’s only been a week but… I have to tell you…”

“I love you.” Harry said clearly, and Cisco’s breath caught. They’d both said they were ‘in-love,’ but just saying it… just hearing it… that made it all so much more real. And Ramon nodded, eyes glistening all over again.

“I love you, too. I love you so much. It’s not rational, but I do.”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s rational.” Harry kissed him, hands tangling in his wet hair, the strands continuously dripping water around him. “It doesn’t need to be rational because it’s real to both of us. Now make love to me, Ramon.” All the air came out of Cisco’s lungs, and he kissed him so deep and steady that Harry had no illusions about his own words, or how Ramon felt about them.

Eventually, Cisco began working his way down Harry’s body, tongue and lips and fingers inspecting muscles and lines, working at his nipples, tasting a pattern over his flesh. And Harry relaxed into the attention, shivering a little, both out of anticipation and the air cooling the wetness on his skin. His mind went blissfully blank, and his heart was incredibly calm.

He'd never bottomed before. Not once. But there was nothing in him that didn’t want that now, because of Ramon. There was no one he’d ever have thought to ask this of or would allow to do it. But exactly like when Cisco had used his mouth and throat to get off, Harry found himself wanting things with Ramon he had never wanted before.

Cisco moved on to his shaft, tasting and sucking, bobbing and laving. And Harry had to watch. The sight of his plush lips around his girth was beyond beautiful, enchanting dark eyes watching him back as he slipped his fingers to Harry’s perineum. Harry reached down, gliding his fingers into those damp strands, Ramon’s eyes blinking heavily at him before he slid his mouth off, turning his face into Harry’s palm. He kissed the place where Harry’s wrist connected to his hand, up the length of his thumb, then took Harry’s thumb into his mouth, wet and warm, his tongue silken as it circled. And Harry instantly forgot that his back had ever been hurting. He forgot that anything else existed beyond the feel of Ramon.

“You’re a dream,” he whispered, bringing his other hand to Ramon’s face, and Cisco’s fingers pressed a little more firmly into Harry’s perineum as he pulled his mouth away, panting a little as he stared endlessly at Harry. And Harry dragged his damp thumb over Cisco’s lips. “Never stop looking at me like that.”

“Are you sure…” Cisco’s fingers slipped softly to Harry’s hole, “About this?” He asked, giving just enough pressure to make Harry’s eyes close heavily.

“Very, very sure.”

That was all the permission Ramon needed. And Harry gave in completely. No control, no demand, no need to rationalize or look for answers. He didn’t even know the questions anymore. What he and Ramon had was iron clad and growing every minute. No one and nothing could convince him they were wrong…

Chapter 26: “What, you don’t think we have enough willpower?”

Chapter Text

It was easier to stretch Harry than he’d imagined it would be.

He knew how to do it, because he’d done it to himself and had it done to him by every partner. But doing it on another person was a new experience. One that both of them seemed to enjoy a great deal. Working Harry open with his fingers was a bit like discovering the existence of the atom. It opened up a world of possibilities, of discovery. He learned that Harry was lulled by Cisco’s touch, into a state of calm like he’d never witnessed. The trust there was intense. There wasn’t a minute Harry reacted badly or as though he would ever change his mind. And Cisco was beginning to feel a little greedy because of it. He’d never had anyone trust him that much, or want to. He was sure of it.

Harry’s hands were flexing randomly against the covers. He’d spent most of the process watching everything Cisco did, but now he had his eyes closed, his head relaxed back, his long legs bent and spread wide. Cisco was settled on his stomach between them, the side of his face relaxed against Harry’s inner thigh, watching as he dutifully brought Harry to a comfortable openness, one they both needed.

By the time he had three fingers working steadily in and out of Harry’s slicked up insides, Cisco was so hard that it hurt. Seeing Harry laying there, the rise and fall of his chest, the twitching of his shaft… f*ck, he was gorgeous. The idea that no one but him had ever seen Harry like this was damn near tragic, and absolutely intoxicating. This view was all his now. That man was his. And Cisco wanted nothing more than to show him what that meant to him.

Gently, he pulled his hand out, missing the feel of Harry’s tightness and warmth already. He grabbed the lube and squeezed more onto Harry’s hole, watching as Harry lazily blinked his eyes open, letting out a deep breath.

Cisco sat up between Harry’s legs, pouring some over his own shaft, pumping himself a few times. He had to close his eyes at the feel. He was so wound up, so achingly needy. The idea of going inside Harry was almost enough to make him whine. He felt Harry sit up and opened his eyes to see him get closer, face to face. Harry moved his hand out of the way, taking both their co*cks together, pumping them in his solid grip.

“Let me ride you, Ramon.” He whispered out, breath hot and fast. Cisco instantly felt his head spin and he made a noise he couldn’t describe. Harry’s whole body shivered, and his eyes rolled shut at the sound. “sh*t, please… please let me.” Harry practically begged, voice labored already. Cisco responded by grabbing his head and kissing him. He had to. They both moaned at the contact, Cisco rising up as he maneuvered himself over Harry’s leg and then fell onto his own back. Harry followed him easily, never missing a beat, straddling him and kissing him as though maybe they both might die if they weren’t physically connected somehow.

Maybe they would.

Maybe Cisco had stopped really living a long time ago, and Harry had brought him back to life just by agreeing to date him. Maybe every second since, Harry had been teaching Cisco’s lungs how to breathe again and his heart how to beat again. Maybe if he ever lost that, he would go right back to being dead.

sh*t, that sounded codependent. Desperate. Too much. But then Harry pulled away to look at him, and Cisco could see an endless ocean of emotion in his sapphire blues. Emotion that somehow felt like it mirrored everything Cisco was feeling, too. Harry never broke eye contact as he reached down, sliding long fingers over Cisco’s shaft. He maneuvered himself, pressing Cisco’s throbbing head into his hole. And Cisco felt his chest tighten, watching the way Harry’s lips stayed parted, short breaths escaping as bit by bit, he lowered himself on top of Cisco’s dick until he was one third of the way.

“Oh, f*ck…” Harry whispered, letting go of Cisco and pressing his hands into the mattress, foreheads plastered together.

“Take your time, take your time.” Cisco whispered, hands softly and shakily moving down Harry’s body, over his rear, fingers gliding along his warm flesh. Harry swallowed.

“No, it’s not… it’s not that.” He panted out, “I didn’t know what it would feel like.” He sounded awed, and he lowered his hips more. Instantly, his eyes shut tight and he had to pull his head away from Cisco’s. “It’s so good. You’re so hard. Oh, you’re hard.” He paused, legs trembling, his hands on Cisco’s ribs. He breathed for a minute, and Cisco couldn’t stop staring at him.

At his throat and the way his chest heaved, at his stomach and the way it tightened at every breath, at his dick and the way it twitched of its own volition. And he had to fight the urge to push up into him. Because Harry’s insides were on fire and tighter than he’d felt on Cisco’s fingers. How could anyone think rationally with something that felt this otherworldly? Slowly, Harry finally started going further. Cisco felt the pressure around his co*ck build and he pushed his head into the mattress, teeth gritting. Harry moaned softly, hands tightening as they moved to Cisco’s sides.

“That’s it, oh sh*t…” Cisco heaved a breath, feeling his own legs trembling a little. He forced himself to relax. He put a leash on his need. He could be patient for Harry. He wanted to be. And Harry seemed to crack a sideways smile without opening his eyes, like he could tell how hard it was for him.

“Is this… what it feels like for you?” Harry panted softly, waiting again. Cisco was more than halfway in. It was a little funny, how Harry seemed to be trying to understand these new revelations, just like the scientist he was. By asking questions.

“H-how does it feel?”

“Fire… in the stretch.” Harry whispered roughly, sliding his hand down without looking, fingers gliding onto his own dick, giving himself a few pumps. “Fullness. So full. Ah…” Harry began lowering himself again, and his head went back a little, long line of his neck exposed. And Cisco’s whole world tilted a little. “I feel like I’m… like I’m coming apart.”

“That’s exactly how it feels.” And it was. It really was. “Is this how it feels for you? When… when you’re in me? There’s so much burn and the tightness… it’s everywhere. You’re squeezing me. sh*t, like your insides are desperate to hold on.”

“Yes, f*ck, yes.” Harry gasped out and just like that, he was all the way down, and Cisco was all the way in, completely sheathed. The world no longer had an axis to tilt on. It was just spinning, and he and Harry were along for the ride. Harry was breathing a little more rapidly, hand frozen on his own shaft, and Cisco was gripping Harry’s thighs, trying to remember if gravity was still real. He needed it not to be, because he needed to just float with Harry. He sat up, the movement making Harry’s head loll forward, a moan leaving his mouth.

“You sound so good,” Cisco breathed, craning for Harry’s mouth, “Let me taste that sound.” He urged, kissing Harry as his hands gripped onto his ass. Harry moaned right into his mouth, his hands coming up to Cisco’s shoulders. Cisco was moaning right along with him. When their mouths pulled apart, Harry pressed his head into Cisco’s shoulder.

“I need to move… I need to… to feel…”

“I’ve got you, honey.” Cisco assured, eyes closed, breathing in the smell of Harry’s hair and pulling his ass cheeks apart a little. Harry whimpered. Actually f*cking whimpered. And then he began moving his hips, up slowly, then back down. It was tempered at first, short and labored thrusts of Cisco’s dick in and out of himself. The electricity that burst into Cisco’s groin was damn near unspeakable. “That’s… god, that’s so good.” He whispered, and Harry turned his face into Cisco’s throat.

“Oh, you’re… I can feel you…” He began moving deeper, straightening up, watching him. His eyes were slightly wet, so goddamn wide, as though everything he was experiencing was too much. And for a split second, Cisco thought about telling him he could stop. But then Harry shoved himself down onto Cisco’s dick without hesitation and his eyes shut, “Right there. That… that’s… that’s you hitting something.” Cisco smiled shakily.

He knew they both knew what that was, but it was the first time Harry had ever felt it for himself. And Cisco was so goddamn proud of that fact. That he was the one to make him feel it? That was everything to him. The next several minutes passed with Harry riding his shaft, finding a rhythm, discovering how deep Harry could make him go. And Cisco watched the show, manning Harry’s dick, trading kisses in the spaces between.

“I want you from behind.” Cisco finally spoke up, nearly choking on his own voice. And Harry nodded against him, grabbing his face, kissing him full and wet. And Cisco’s eyes nearly went back into his head, both of them moaning as Harry slid off, flopping onto his side with a deep breath. Cisco turned to look at him. He already seemed shaken at the joints, as though all that he’d been feeling and learning had begun to turn him into easily moldable clay. “I almost can’t believe you let me have you, that you let me have this…” Cisco reached out, slipping his fingers over Harry’s mouth. The man lying there closed his eyes, heaving a breath. “All of this. All of you. sh*t, do you have any idea?” He straddled Harry’s hip, pressing kisses into his throat, down to his shoulder where the still raw bruise was. “Do you know what this means to me?”

“You keep talking like that, and you’re going to make me go before you get a chance to get back in.” Harry huffed out, and Cisco smiled against his skin, grabbing him by the arm and pulling till Harry rolled onto his stomach. He tasted at his shoulder, slid his dick in between Harry’s cheeks, warm and still slick. But not slick enough. He looked around for the bottle of lube, finding it half covered in a comforter, and he separated them just enough to pour some onto Harry’s tailbone.

The man beneath him shivered a little, hands folding beneath the pillow in front of him. And Cisco gently slid his hand down through the slickness, curling his fingers right into Harry’s hole. Instantly, Harry moaned, face pressing into the pillow. And Cisco worked him with his fingers, shallowly teasing his hole and getting him good and slick. Harry’s ass pressed up into him instinctively, looking for depth, practically begging for more. And Cisco shifted back into position, the head of his throbbing shaft sliding easily back in, going so far and deep in one steady slick movement that Cisco couldn’t tell where he started and Harry ended.

Harry moaned loudly. Louder than he thought he’d ever heard him. Holy sh*t. He didn’t wait, he began moving, needing the tightness, the gripping wet, the heat of Harry’s insides choking him with every pass. And Harry seemed to relax into the thrusting like it was his mission, like if he didn’t, he might just implode. His body rocked beneath Cisco, and he hung his head, his tangled hair brushing over Harry’s back and shoulders with each pass. He dug his fingers into the mattress, feeling the strain in his arms and the pressure in his groin building relentlessly. He could hear Harry mumbling something incoherently. And he nearly stopped himself till Harry lifted his head.

“Please, please…” Harry whimpered. f*ck, that sound. The way it hit Cisco in the chest. A sledgehammer of pleasure that made him want to drag every inch of begging out of his lover. “Beautiful, please.” It was like Harry didn’t even know what he was asking for, so he was asking for all of it with ‘please.’ Cisco couldn’t deny him. He didn’t know how. And he could hardly deny himself anymore. He picked up the pace, the firmness, driving himself in and out of Harry with one very clear purpose. “Ramon!” Harry groaned out, head falling back to the pillow, “Oh, sh*t, please!” And he watched as Harry’s whole body tensed below him, face turning into the pillow as Harry nearly bit down on the material.

Harry came into the mattress damn near shaking to death. Cisco felt his insides clenching him relentlessly, and he was moaning out against the suffocating grip of it. He needed to come too, he wanted it so f*cking badly. But he wouldn’t be able to keep this up for long before Harry became too stimulated. Harry knew that, he had to. Because he lifted his ass, half gasping at the feeling, a sound like half a sob escaping his mouth as another shiver ran through him, like his org*sm might not let up. But then he breathed out heavily, getting on his elbows, ass pushed all the way into Cisco. And he had to rise up, grip onto Harry’s hips. Even just that little change in angle made Cisco see stars. And he was coming in seconds, a few well placed thrusts tipping him right over into ecstasy. He pulsed inside Harry, raggedly breathing, feeling the powerful release of his own org*sm drive out of him.

The high was almost as high as it got when he needed pain in the mix.

Except there had been nothing but pure pleasure this entire encounter.

Harry nearly collapsed out of his hold, going entirely flat and trying so hard to breathe normally. Cisco kept himself sheathed, trying to do the same damn thing. When he opened his eyes, the room was spinning a little. And he swallowed as a tingling spread into his limbs. Slowly, he inched his way up Harry’s form, then lowered his chest to Harry’s back. Harry’s head was turned to the side, his eyes closed, soft pants escaping. And he closed his own eyes, nuzzling his face into Harry’s damp hair.

They stayed like that for a long time, even after he’d shrunk and slipped out, even after the chill of the air and the wetness of their hair had them both trembling a little. Or maybe that was the exertion. Or maybe it was how often they’d had sex since they’d started all this. A thought that made Cisco smile. Slowly, he slid off Harry, landing on his side, watching as he just as slowly blinked his deep ocean blues open.

“How do you feel?” Cisco asked, smoothing his hand over Harry’s scar. His smile was small and he exhaled before lifting his hand to Cisco’s hair, sweeping some of it away.

“Very sore. And happy for it.” He said easily. Cisco smiled back. He was so damn beautiful to Cisco at that moment. He’d always thought he was gorgeous, but that word seemed to hit him differently now. Beautiful meant love. Beautiful meant peace. Beautiful meant safety and understanding and want. Beautiful was everything Harry had come to mean to him, and suddenly he understood why Harry called him that all the time.

“Can I keep you?” Cisco whispered, “For the rest of my life?” At first, there was gentle humor in Harry’s eyes, but then he seemed to realize that Cisco was being entirely serious. “I told you before… I want everything, good or bad, with you. I don’t want anyone else. I never will. You’re it, Harry. And… Vegas is a place that exists.” Cisco attempted to joke but Harry smoothed his palm entirely over Cisco’s cheek.

“Did you just ask me… to…”

“Yeah, I think I did.” Cisco should be… scared. This was foolish, right? He knew how fast it had already been, and there was so much they needed to learn still. So much they didn’t know about each other, and things that needed far more time than a week to want this much… right? Right. He shouldn’t have said that. He should take it back. He should claim temporary insanity brought on by too much pleasure. But… that would have been a bold-faced lie.

Harry quietly slipped away, rolling with a slight wince onto his back and sitting up a little stiffly, flattening his palms into the mattress, straightening his arms and leaning into them. He kept his legs stretched out, looking down the length of both their bodies as Cisco sat up, too. He slid his hand over Harry’s scar again, massaging softly. But he was far more focused on Harry’s expression. He’d never seen that look before. He couldn’t even pinpoint what it was… what it meant…

“I don’t need an answer. Not now.” Cisco added quickly, and Harry’s eyes drifted to him, serious and searching. “I… I don’t want you to think…” Cisco huffed a breath, knitting his brows, swallowing down a lump he didn’t want. “I know how it must seem, moving so fast and me living like this,” He motioned his free hand out, “That I want your money or any of that. Because I don’t. That’s not it.”

“I don’t think that.” Harry said incredibly calmly, voice somehow delicate.

“I also don’t want you to think I go around asking this sorta thing. I’ve never… I never wanted this with anyone before you, before-“

“I want to keep you, too, Ramon.” Harry interrupted, voice still so delicate. “But I don’t think…” He furrowed his brows softly, then looked away, a deep and terrible sadness filling up his eyes. And Cisco knew it was sadness. He’d known that look for a long time, because he’d seen it in his own reflection. Or he used to, before Harry.

“Don’t think what?” Cisco whispered.

“I don’t think you know what you’re asking for.” Harry whispered back, then moved away from him, stiffly standing up. Cisco scrambled forward, grabbing Harry by the elbow and stopping him from going very far.

“Yes, I do.” He asserted, surprised by the intensity of how it felt. And Harry’s eyes locked on him. “It’s insane. I know it is. I know that we went from the ground to another galaxy in seconds, but from the moment I met you seven months ago, I knew.” He stood fully in front of Harry. “I think that’s the real reason I ran away from you, because I was yours instantly and I didn’t know how to-“ He motioned both hands idly, trying to pluck the words out of thin air, “How to explain it or even how to feel it properly.” He ran a hand roughly through his own hair, then sighed, searching Harry’s far too expressive eyes. “Harry, tell me… tell me that you didn’t feel it, too. Tell me that much, and I won’t ever bring this up again. I promise you.”

“I can’t do that.” Harry shook his head, voice still so goddamn soft. “Because I knew it, too. I felt it.”

“So then…” He cracked a small smile, “Maybe it’s not insane, right? Maybe we’ve been spending too much time in our own way and this is where it was always supposed to be headed.”

“Ramon,” Harry shook his head and looked down at his chest, thoughts tumbling and crashing into themselves as his hands came up and wrapped around Cisco’s upper arms.

“I know what I’m asking for.” Cisco said very firmly. And Harry’s eyes moved quickly back up to his. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, no matter what comes our way. And I’m not going to change my mind, or leave when things get hard. I’m not walking away from you. Do you hear me, Harry? I know you think you’re so difficult to live with, but you’re the one-“ He reached forward, tucking his hands around Harry’s hips, “That made me feel alive again.” His voice choked a little, and Harry released the air from his lungs, eyes closing.

“What if the hard parts of me become too much?” And Cisco watched a tear roll out of his eye. “What if I can’t be what you need me to be when you need me to be it? What if I hurt you?” He whispered, voice tight. f*ck.

“No one can be everything to someone all the time. And… you will hurt me.” Cisco whispered back, “Just like I’ll probably hurt you. We’re human, Harry. We’re going to say things or do things that hurt each other. But the difference is… I plan on working through it with you. Not running from it. Because you are worth it. You are worth all of it. The good and the bad and everything in between. I didn’t need three years or seven months or even a week to figure that out.” Harry’s face crumpled softly, and Cisco realized in that moment that no one had ever said that or shown him before. That thought was heart-wrenching, because Harry had gone on all this time thinking he wasn’t worth sticking around for. “God, Harry… you’re so worth it. I’m staying, remember? I’m not Tess.” Harry’s eyes opened and he shook his head wordlessly before he moved directly into him, wrapping both arms around him, holding him tight and close. “And you’re not Brian.” Harry’s arms only got tighter. And Cisco buried his face into Harry’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry. I’m not… I’m no good at this, Ramon.” Harry struggled, and Cisco sighed against him, eyes burning and closed against the tears that wanted to escape.

“Neither am I. I’m just trying to do what feels right.” He lifted his head, shuddering out a breath. “And I know, with everything I am… being with you feels right. So, like I said,” he cracked a smile, feeling the tears finally roll out of his eyes, “I know what I’m asking. Please let me keep you.” Harry chuckled a little, shaking his head, his own cheeks wet.

“We’re not going to Vegas.” He said clearly, and Cisco’s brows went up. Was that a yes? “Let’s… start this the right way.” He brought both his hands up, smoothing his thumbs over the wetness on Cisco’s cheeks. “Ask me the real question.” Cisco felt his heart flutter immediately. His smile was instant and bright and Harry’s own smile grew a little more.

“Will you marry me, Harrison Wells?” He said without hesitation. Harry chuckled again, and Cisco reached up to wipe his cheek gently.

“Yes.” Harry leaned in and kissed him warmly, lingering just long enough to make his heart slow back down. “One year.” He nodded, searching his eyes. “I’ll happily tell the world I’m in engaged to you every day between now and then, Cisco Ramon. But we’re not eloping. I’m asking for a one year engagement, to get us figured out, to keep this forward momentum. And… to plan a wedding we deserve. One that doesn’t involve sand, crap tables, and fake Elvis.” Cisco laughed at that, then flopped his head forward.

“Holy sh*t, Harry.” He breathed out, “I’m so happy right now. And relieved.” Harry breathed against his hair before kissing the top of his head. Cisco could only imagine what Barry and Caitlin would think, or what any of the people in their lives would think. “Oh my god,” Cisco’s head darted back up, and Harry raised his brows. “They’re going to kill me.” He laughed at the idea and Harry grinned.

“They?”

“Barry and Caitlin.”

“Oh,” Harry shook his head, “I wouldn’t worry about them. They’ve probably already got a bet going.”

“How’d you know about their bets?” He leaned completely into him and Harry shrugged.

“Jesse. She told me all about it at the gala.” Harry said, and Cisco’s eyes got wide.

“What about Jesse?” He asked quickly, “What’s she going to think?”

“Ramon, I love my daughter. But… she’s an adult now. This is my life. And I think I can safely say… she’ll be happy with whatever makes me happy. She’s wanted me to have a relationship for a long time. I just don’t think any of us counted on what you and I finding each other would really mean.”

“I bet the 8-ball could’ve.” Cisco wiggled his brows, and Harry instantly rolled his eyes, pulling away to move toward the bathroom. “Fight it all you want, honey. That thing’s real magic.” Harry stopped in the doorway, looking back at him, holding the handle.

“That’s not magic.” Harry said sternly, “But you are.” He added, then closed the door. Just like that. Cisco’s face began to hurt from grinning so hard. And he practically bounced in place, looking around his apartment and feeling beyond ecstatic. Was there a word for ‘beyond ecstatic?’ He needed to start carrying a dictionary and thesaurus around.

“We’re engaged.” Cisco said to no one, then chuckled at his own voice. “Hey, Harry, we’re engaged!” He called out. It was quiet for a beat.

“Yes, we are.” Harry called back, voice muffled by the door. And Cisco clapped his hands together, turning in a circle, probably looking entirely ridiculous spinning in the center of his apartment, completely nude with still damp and tangled hair. And he could care less.

When he came to a stop, he dropped his hands, peering around, eyes falling to the window that led to the fire escape. It was still raining softly, the sky outside gray and the flaky metal of the old railings glistening. Molly was sitting on the sill, tail swishing softly as she watched the water falling from the sky. He heard the bathroom door open back up, and then felt Harry’s hands slip around his sides, clasping at his waist. Harry’s lips pressed into his shoulder, and Cisco leaned back entirely into his hold.

“Let’s get dressed. There really is something at work I want you to see. Even more now than before.”

“Do I get a hint?” He asked, holding Harry’s arms to himself.

“No.”

“Ya know… this whole surprise thing is turning out to be really one-sided.” He grumped a little, but was smiling. Harry began to sway him lazily back and forth.

“I told you before, you’re the only surprise I’ll never complain about.” Harry kissed the side of his head. “Come on, daylight’s wasting. And we need coffee before I start becoming murderous.” Cisco snorted a little, then nodded, turning to press a chaste kiss to Harry’s lips.

As they cleaned up and dressed, he found himself watching how stiffly Harry moved. He wondered how long his back would hurt. Because he could tell it wasn’t just an ache anymore. Maybe they should have held off for a while. Harry caught him watching as he sat on the edge of the bed, holding one of his boots between his knees.

“I’m not going to break.” He said knowingly. “It’ll be fine by tomorrow.”

“Uh huh.” Cisco said, tying his own shoelace as Harry dropped the boot to put his foot in it. “We’re still taking a break for a few days.”

“Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Harry grabbed his other boot and Cisco straightened, grabbing his zipper hoodie off the back of the couch.

“What, you don’t think we have enough willpower?”

“No, I don’t think we have any at all.” Harry tied both boots and stood, straightening out his black shirt. Then he turned to grab his go bag off the top of the bed, shoving his dirty clothes a little further in before zipping it up.

“Oh, ye of little faith.” Cisco grabbed his cell phone and keys off the counter and Harry turned to look at him.

“On the contrary, I have a great amount of faith that I am currently incapable of keeping my hands off you.”

“The sex is that good, huh?” Cisco flashed him a smile and Harry’s eyes sparkled instantly.

“The man I’m having the sex with is, yes.” He held his hand out toward him, the bag slung over his opposite shoulder. And Cisco felt his heart flutter again at the sight of him before he crossed the space and took his hand. Harry leaned down and kissed him, pulling back a breath later and searching his eyes. Something came over his features, and his smile became tender.

“What’s that look for?” Cisco asked lightly.

“I just realized there’s something I can tell you anytime I want now.” He brushed his lips back over his chastely. “I love you, Ramon.” And Cisco felt himself fall all over again. Harry kept doing that to him. Endlessly making him fall in love. And Cisco knew right then and there that it would be that way every single day for the rest of their lives.

“I love you, too.”

Chapter 27: “Tell Cisco I said hello.”

Chapter Text

A sound at the door made the cat dart away from the window, hiding under the bed at the offending noise that interrupted her rain watching. Something was jiggling in the lock. She could still hear the rain outside, and she was aware that she’d been alone in the apartment since her human and the tall human had left. She didn’t like people. People were unpredictable. People were cruel. Some people more than others. Her human and the tall one… they were exceptions. So were the other two that always came over. But she was going to make them earn her affection a little while longer. The tall man was different. Her human was very attached to him in a much different way. So for her human, she’d relented to the tall man.

The one who walked through the door, however, he wasn’t worth any affection at all. She remembered him. The sound of his walk, the smell of his skin. Even the scent of the flowers he was carrying. It made her growl instinctively, watching from her spot tucked far out of reach as his boots crossed the floor after closing the door. He seemed to stop right in the center, turning in a slow circle. Then he wandered right over to the bed, setting the flowers down on the top.

He appeared to be leaning, and she watched the corner of the faded red blanket get pulled up out of view. She heard him inhale. Like he was scenting something. She wasn’t sure what he was doing, but she didn’t want him anywhere near her. So she moved further into the dark space, up against the wall, her claws scratching against the old wooden floor. She watched his boots move again, crouching with one hand on the mattress, his other hand pressing to the floor as he bent down and peered into her safe space.

“I remember you.” He said, but she didn’t understand. At least not the words themselves. The intent, however, was very clear. She growled deeply, tail swishing. “Don’t worry, cat. I’m not here for you.” He smiled and it was all teeth. She swatted at empty air and hissed, and he laughed with a little shake of his head before his upper body disappeared.

She watched his boots move away. And then it was just… noise. Drawers opening. Things being searched through. Cabinets clicking. His boots walking along the floor. She wanted all the noise to stop. She wanted to run away. Or for her human to come back and keep her safe. It seemed like it took forever for the bad human to be satisfied with whatever he was doing. But finally, his boots stopped moving.

“Tell Cisco I said hello.” Again, she didn’t know what he was saying. But she could feel the words were aimed toward her. She kept growling, low and deep. Her claws were sharp and her paws were fast, she would hurt him if he touched her. But then he went back to the door, and he left without another word. The lock clicked in place. And silence settled back in except for the sound of the rain. The smell of those flowers was everywhere now.

She didn’t trust his absence. She stayed right where she was. And she wasn’t going to move again until her human came home…

* * *

“It’s so… big.” Ramon was moving quickly, more excited than a kid at Disney. He ran straight for the massive and thick LPX glass acting as a barrier from the charged particles that moved outward from the chamber circling around the center of the accelerator. “You can see the lines of force!” He exclaimed, watching as the constant electric and magnetic fields moved in a never-ending flow. Normally, humans wouldn’t be able to visualize either field. But they’d added minuscule magnetic particles to the flow to be able to physically see the path. The continuous energy and the particles combined caused a sort of glowing purple sandstorm effect, illuminated by what looked like lightning within.

“How is it so quiet? It’s the tungsten alloy. Has to be. You probably have more than enough layers to dampen the vibrational waves, to keep them from shaking the building apart.” Cisco answered his own question and Harry smiled fondly as he wandered nearby, watching Cisco move to a console and hover his hands over it. His brilliance was on complete display for Harry to appreciate. This part of him… his intelligence and the sheer speed of which he thought made Harry feel like he was with an absolute equal. Cisco looked like he was fighting the urge to start typing, to read more than what was available on the screen.

Technically, Ramon shouldn’t have been there, deep in the bowels of the Pipeline, at the belly of the beast itself. Only approved personnel were supposed to have access, due to the secrecy behind the workings of the project itself. Each department was left blind to each other’s work, except for any completely necessary information. But Harry had made executive decisions like this before. And he knew Cisco was as worthy of being there as anyone who already had. Harry came up behind him quietly, slipping his keycard from his pocket and sticking it into the reader. Then he typed in his code and the computer gave unfiltered access immediately.

“Go ahead.” He motioned to the keyboard, and Cisco’s brows shot up, eyes wide and so very excited.

“Really?” He asked, looking immediately back at the screen. “Holy hannah, look at the readings!” He began typing, fingers moving lightning fast, then he pointed at the screen. “The output is insane. How did you compensate for the overdrive? It’s almost moving at the speed of light, right?”

“At full power, trillions of protons will race around the ring at 11,245 times a second, travelling at 99.9999991 percent the speed of light.” He watched Cisco’s expression light up impossibly more with every ‘nine’ Harry said. “Each cavity uses an 8.3 tesla superconducting electromagnet on its barrier which makes the seal 100,000 times stronger than Earth's magnetic field. It’s more than capable of holding any of the energy produced since the upgrades. Which was entirely your idea.”

“What? No, we… I mean, my team…”

“No, don’t be modest.” Harry shook his head, motioning to the lightshow in front of them. “I read the outline when we started the accelerator expansion, to increase the power produced. Your team may have helped develop the upgrades for the cavities, but the idea was yours. I could tell from the work itself. The calculations, and the data. It’s why I approved your requested lab when you first came to work here.” He looked back at him, “Because of the work only you can do. You earned the bonus that came with it. And the recognition.”

“I, uh…” He was blushing, and he huffed out a breath, looking ahead again, over the computer screen. “I remember the list of contributors being read on the news when the accelerator came online. It was surreal, hearing them say my name.”

“As I recall, they butchered it.”

“Yeah, they said ‘Ray-mon.’” Cisco chuckled. “But that was okay. It was still amazing to me.”

“There’s something else you should see, then.” Harry slipped his hand over his back, and Cisco smiled up at him. Harry motioned his head, and they walked further down the pipeline, toward one of the several ancillary generator rooms. Cisco’s eyes began to follow a line of steel plaques that lined almost the entire bottom of the inner wall. Names were on every single one, seven or eight names to a plaque. Some from the original project, the rest from the expansion. And his steps began to slow.

“Holy crap, that’s-“ He pointed to one that was directly across from the doors of Access 7, “That’s me!” He crouched down and ran his fingers over the etched ‘Francisco Ramon’ that rested at the very top above six other names, grinning as he turned back around. But the second his eyes looked past Harry, his face began to sober a little when he read ‘Access 7,’ and he slowly got up before looking down at the grated floor they were standing on. “Harry…” He whispered, eyes darting back to his.

“I didn’t want to say it before. Because of how it sounded. But you just asked me to marry you, so… maybe it’s not as crazy as it seems.” Harry said with a light smile as he looked down at a particular spot, wandering around it like there was something more there than steel and space. He slipped his hands into his pockets. “I was laying right here. I could hear my blood dripping to the floor below. And I couldn’t move. All I could do was stare ahead. They’d only just begun installing the new plaques and hadn’t finished etching the names into them all yet. Yours was… the only one on that plaque at the time.” He cleared his throat a little, looking back at Ramon who had grown very, very quiet.

“I was fading a lot faster than even I knew, because thinking became difficult very quickly. I couldn’t stop staring at your name, and I started repeating it over and over in my head. I thought… if I could focus on it, on you, maybe I could stay conscious. Maybe I could stave off what I knew was coming for me.” He wandered toward him, the sound of his boots thudded softly on the grate as he walked right over the spot where he’d almost died.

“When I woke up in the hospital, your name was the first thing I said out loud. Jesse hadn’t left my bedside and she heard me say it. She said I looked almost desperate to find something. And I think… maybe I was looking for that.” He pointed at the plaque. “After I got out of the hospital, this was the first place I came. I felt like I owed you a thank you, for giving me something to hold on to. But…” He shook his head, meeting Cisco’s gaze. “I never found the courage.”

For a moment, Ramon didn’t say a word. His brows were tight and his eyes were wet, and Harry couldn’t accurately decipher what he was thinking. But then Cisco moved firmly into him, wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck, and hugged him for dear life.

“It hasn’t been a week,” Ramon whispered, “Or seven months. It’s been three years. That’s why it’s felt like… all this time…” Harry closed his eyes, enclosing him in his arms, resting his chin on Cisco’s shoulder. “We just… didn’t know it. If we said it all out loud, people would think we’re having a shared delusion. But… Harry, it’s proof.”

“What is?”

“We were always supposed to find each other.” He pulled back, and gripped onto Harry’s shoulders, the intensity of his eyes somehow darker in the magnificent light of the accelerator behind him. “When Brian tried to kill me, the moment I knew I was going to die… I told you I was staring at the ladybug magnet that had fallen off when he shoved me into it. I didn’t tell you what the magnet was holding up.”

He pulled his hands away and reached into his back pocket, pulling out his wallet and opening it. He slipped out a folded, thick and worn-out paper. Then he cleared his throat a little before holding it out to him. Harry took it quietly, confused. It looked like it had been pulled out of a magazine, small words running across the backside of the paper. But as he unfolded it, an image began to appear. Of Harry, standing in front of S.T.A.R. Labs, hands in the pockets of a steel gray suit, eyes serious and expression calm. That picture was in the corner of an article about the accelerator that had been in a Science Now magazine years ago.

“I read that article so many times when it first came out that I just… ended up putting it on my fridge.” Cisco said very softly. “I couldn’t go back into the apartment after what happened, but when Caitlin and Barry went in to clean it out for me, they found it. Caitlin said it was the only thing on the kitchen floor that wasn’t covered in blood. So, she saved it for me. She said I must’ve kept it for a reason.” Harry looked back at him, feeling more than a little stunned. The coincidences were staggering, the sheer impossibility of all this striking Harry pretty damn hard. “I remember thinking there was no way it survived all that. Not after…” He looked back at Harry and swallowed a little. “It just didn’t seem possible. There was a lot of blood, ya know?” He searched Harry’s eyes.

“It felt a little like a miracle, which sounds insane. It’s just a magazine article. I probably could have replaced it. But… that piece of paper and the man on it,” he motioned to the paper, “Just made me feel better. It made me feel like I could get through it. And… I did.” He nodded, almost as if to himself. “There was one thing you said in the article, about how no one makes it through a world designed to make us fail-“

“Without choosing to fight the worst of it together.” Harry finished for him. Cisco’s smile was small, and he nodded.

“It… sorta stuck with me.” His voice had grown so very soft. “You saved me, too, Harry. On the same day I saved you.”

“This is…” Harry nearly heaved a breath, looking past him to the plaque, then back down at the paper. “I can’t explain this.”

“It feels like a lot of coincidence.” Cisco said.

“No.” Harry said, looking right at him. “I mean, yes it does… but… it feels like fate.” Cisco’s eyes softened.

“I thought you didn’t believe in fate.”

“Maybe I do now.” He whispered, and he felt it. He knew it. He believed it. It was the only explanation, the only thing that made any sense at all. “You keep doing this to me.” He sighed out, then he smiled, letting the wonder he felt be seen on his face. “Making me question everything I’ve known.” He reached forward and slid his hand beneath Cisco’s hair, gripping his neck. Ramon visibly swallowed. “And then making me not care about the answers.”

He breathed out and stepped into him, kissing him without hesitation. He felt as though something had slotted back into place, a gear that had been shifted repositioned to its original state. Was it really as crazy as it seemed? Was it really out of the realm of possibility that something on the outside of perception had been pulling them in the same direction like binary asteroids brought together by gravitational force? And when was Harry going to stop trying to quantify the magnetism? He needed to give in completely. He needed to let them collide.

Cisco’s hands came up to Harry’s hips and he sighed into that kiss, stepping back, and not stopping till his back hit the glass. Harry wanted to drop the paper, to hold him properly, but he settled for pressing it to the glass behind them, keeping them flush, body to body. Colliding was exactly how it felt.

“Woah, hey… there are-“ Ramon cleared his throat when he separated their mouths, “Cameras in here.” He blinked at Harry, smiling at the look on his face. Harry grinned.

“Security can learn a thing or two.”

“Okay, Casanova. I’m all for PDA, but let’s tone it down at work.” He chastised, nudging him a little. And Harry chuckled, moving to pull away. Until Cisco seemed to change his mind for a moment, capturing Harry’s mouth one more time, kissing him soundly.

“Mm,” Harry finally pushed away, “I’ll tone it down, as long as I can pull you into dark corners whenever it becomes imperative.” He held the paper out between them. And Ramon took it without looking, beginning to fold it like he’d done so a million times before.

“Deal.”

“Yes it is.”

“This is all really happening to us, isn’t it… it’s… not some kind of dream.” Ramon sounded awed at the perspective, looking Harry over, “I almost can’t believe how right it feels.” He looked down at the now folded paper in his hand. “It all makes sense to me, but... shouldn’t we want answers, though? As to how all this happened?”

“I don’t need them.” Harry shrugged, and Cisco looked back at him. “Do you?” Quiet realization flooded his brown eyes and he smiled lightly.

“No.” He shook his head. “No, I just need you.”

“You’ve got me.” Harry brushed Cisco’s hair behind his shoulder with one hand, and they both grinned at each other. Then Ramon’s phone rang, startling him a little and they both chuckled as he fished it out of his pocket. He made a confused face at the screen, then pressed answer.

“Hello?” Ramon asked, looking up at Harry who stepped back again to give him more room. “Hello?” He asked again. And then his brows furrowed. “Who is this?”

“Ramon?” Harry questioned softly. Cisco shook his head.

“Look, if you’re not gonna say anything, I’m hanging up.” He stated, then waited a beat before lowering the phone and hanging up. “That was weird.” Harry reached forward and turned Cisco’s hand a little, looking at the number on the screen. His brows lifted at the number. He might be able to accept cosmic coincidences, but not ones like this…

“That’s the same one that called this morning. On my phone.” He pulled his own phone out, bringing up the recent calls list and showing it to Ramon.

“That’s really weird.”

“Block the number.” Harry said immediately. “Ramon, no one has access to my number except the people I give it to. It’s a secure phone. I might have been able to write it off as a random dial before, but now?” Cisco nodded immediately.

“Who would-“ The phone began ringing again, and Ramon yelped, jostling the phone, practically juggling it hand to hand. It almost went flying, till Harry reached out and grabbed it. “Holy sh*t.” Cisco breathed out, and Harry looked down at the name on the screen.

“It’s Allen.” He grit, holding the phone back to him. Ramon made a sheepish smile, then grabbed it and answered. “Dude.” He said flatly, “You scared the crap outta me.” He said, slipping the folded paper into his pocket. Cisco smiled. “No, never mind. What’s up?” Harry pressed on the number on his recent call list, blocking the number while Ramon talked. “Oh, no I’m not there. Harry and I are at the labs… yes, on a Sunday… yes, he’s a bad influence.” Cisco smirked at Harry who shook his head. He listened for a moment, then his brows went up.

“Right! It’s still in the box in my closet. I can grab it tonight if you want me to bring it to the labs in the morning.” He slipped the folded paper in his back pocket and shrugged. “Pushy.” He smirked, “Sure, you can use the spare key. Oh, check on Molly’s food for me. I don’t think I filled it since yesterday. Sorta forgot this morning.” He nodded at no one, looking down at the grated floor. “We’re… yeah, we’re doing great.” He looked back up at Harry, smiling calmly. “Barry says hi.” He said to Harry.

“Tell Allen to get off the phone.”

“Harry says you have to get off the phone.” He grinned. “I think he needs more coffee.”

“You’re not wrong.” Harry said, shoving his phone in his pocket. Cisco chuckled.

“Sure thing, man. I’ll see you tomorrow… yeah. Bye.” And he hung up.

“What was that all about?” He asked.

“Barry hid the anniversary gift he got for Iris at my place. He was supposed to drop it off at the jeweler’s this afternoon to have it engraved.” He was looking at his phone as he talked, and blocked the number that had tried to call them both. “He said he was just up the road, so I told him he could grab it.”

“Does he normally hide things at your place?”

“Oh, they all do. Barry hides things for Iris, Caitlin hides things for Ronnie. And Ronnie and Iris hide things for Caitlin and Barry.” He looked up with a light squint. “It’s really kinda espionagey, how often they do that. And how often I let them.”

“Espionagey is not a word.”

“I’m making my own dictionary.” He shrugged. “Wait…” He tilted his head a little, and Harry smirked at the look of him. “Okay, so… what are we basing our anniversary off of? Ya know… the ‘officially a couple’ anniversary.”

“You mean are we basing it off of how we feel or when you asked me out?”

“Yeah, that.” He seemed to think about it for a moment, then put his phone away. “This is going to sound as crazy as everything else has, but… that day… April 9th… I’ve hated that date since. Dreaded it whenever it came up. I know it’s just a number on a calendar, that it could have happened any day, but I felt like it was permanently attached to everything after that. Like my birthday, or the day I started at the labs. It’s just that date wasn’t a good kind of anniversary. And I wished I could skip over it completely.” He tensed his brows momentarily, glancing down at Harry’s chest in thought.

“My therapist called it a ‘traumatic event anniversary.’ She said it’s normal for a repeat of the feelings, bodily responses, and thoughts that occurred at the time of the event to happen on that day. But… I’ve always approached what happened as something to overcome. I’ve always needed to try to rebuild what was destroyed. I wanted to replace it with better memories. And this year, I spent the day with Barry and Caitlin. We all took the day off, and hit up stores, went to a play, hung out at our favorite places…” he looked slowly back up at Harry’s face, “Went to Jitters.” There it was again. A coincidence. Or maybe not. Maybe it was just more of the truth. Harry shook his head minutely. Looking past him at the plaque again.

“It’s hard to be here, on April 9th.” He admitted, “So I do everything not to be. It’s why I went to Jitters on Tuesday.” He looked back at Ramon, “Because I couldn’t be here. The last few years, it’s felt like I was tempting fate by stepping into the building on that day. As though I was just waving myself at death, daring him to come back. It felt like superstition, which pissed me off, but I couldn’t shake it. That first year, I couldn’t even step foot on the campus. This time… I made it about an hour before I camped out at Jitters.” He shook his head, “Right where you found me.”

“Can we…” Ramon’s dark and focused eyes danced over his own, “Can we make the ninth ours? Can we take it back from what hurt us? Make it… not the date we both almost died, but the date we finally found each other?” Harry was nodding before Ramon even finished the last question, and Cisco looked like everything joy must be, letting the air out of his lungs, grinning before he wrapped his arms completely around Harry’s frame and peered up at him. “Imagine trying to explain all this to the team.”

“Nope, not doing that.” Harry shook his head, “I don’t have the patience for their enthusiasm.”

“What about my enthusiasm? Because… I’m not so sure we should be waiting a year to say ‘I do.’ I think the universe might be trying to tell us to get our act together.” Harry chuckled and hugged him close, resting his cheek on Cisco’s head with a deep sigh.

“We should try, at the very least. For the sake of everyone else’s sanity.”

Ramon laughed, then relaxed entirely into him. And they stayed like that, listening to the calming mechanical hum of the accelerator and watching the purple lightning and magnetic storm make its never-ending way around the chamber in an infinite loop of power and energy.

Seven years ago, he’d approved the hire of Francisco Ramon. Three years ago, he’d almost died holding onto the sight of Ramon’s name like a life preserver, while Cisco almost died holding onto the image of Harry on a magazine article. Seven months ago, Ramon spilled coffee on him, and turned his world inside out. Six days ago, Cisco asked him out on a date. And today, he’d asked Harry to marry him.

Today, they’d put all the impossible pieces together.

Today, Harry learned to be completely accepting of fate.

He never wanted today to end.

Chapter 28: “The flowers, Harry!”

Chapter Text

“…and now we can prove its existence. It’s a breakthrough that’s going to put S.T.A.R. Labs on the map more than the accelerator itself ever did! Imagine the contracts, Wells. The profit alone-“

“If you bring up money one more time…” Harry said stiffly, dropping the stack of folders Benson had handed him down onto the side of his desk without ever looking in them. “I’ve already told you, Benson, that what we’ve learned from the accelerator will not be for profit. That includes the existence of dark matter. It’s Open Science.”

“Open Science is a fantastic principle in theory, but it’s not going to keep the lights on.” Franklin Benson crossed his arms over his chest, his brown suit jacket pulling. Cisco was watching from the worktable in Harry’s office, a pencil paused in one hand. He’d been working on the blueprint sketches for the quark sphere while Harry tried to get caught up on requisition data, and Benson, an exec from the financial floor, had walked in without invitation, practically adamant that Harry stop whatever he was doing and have what appeared to be a conversation that had already been beaten to death.

“It’s not a theory. It’s what built this company. What I built it with.” Harry faced him and Benson lifted his brows slowly. “Morality, and integrity.” Cisco was beginning to recognize what Harry’s anger looked like. It made his eyes intense, somehow bluer and sharper. His expression never veered away from controlled, and his tone took on an edge that made anyone nearby pay attention. “Your job isn’t to tell me how to do my job, your job is to oversee the allocation of funds into the opening of new labs, and the flow of profit into new acquisitions, like I hired you to do.”

“Yeah, that’s part of my job. You also hired me to advise you on potential new expansions to other cities. That’s how we just ended up in Boston in the first place. How do you think we’re going to pay for more expansions?” Benson countered, completely unphased by what was clearly rising agitation in Harry.

“How do you think we expanded to five major cities in the US in the last twelve years?” Harry crossed his arms, practically trying to keep himself from fully squaring off. “I’ve been at this longer than you, Benson. I know every in and out, every trick, everything necessary to open and build a lab. I know exactly what it takes, the time and effort and the money behind just one facility. What you want, what you’re looking for? It’s not how I will ever do business.” Cisco raised his brows a little, slightly confused, feeling like he’d missed something. But then Harry stepped forward. “We are not in this business for profit alone. I will not lay people off, or sell off information that could help everyone.”

“That’s idealism, not business.” Benson said, finally looking a little worried by Harry’s proximity. “It’s a different world now, Wells. You turned it into one.”

“What?”

“By creating the accelerator, you turned the world itself into a science magnate, pointed in the direction of progress. And progress doesn’t happen without sacrifice.” Benson explained. And Harry laughed wryly, dropping his arms.

“Your kind of progress belongs to stock market traders and oil companies.” He said flatly.

“Liberty Labs.” Benson dropped his own arms and motioned to Harry, taking a step back. Harry furrowed his brows, giving him an unreadable look, though Cisco could tell he was confused… at first. “They’re rivaling S.T.A.R. Labs now. They’ve got direct contracts with the defense department. They’re paving the way forward for advancements in weapons technology. A path, I might add, that was offered to you first! One that could have gotten this company billions in revenue!” Benson raised his voice a little, and… oh… oh was that a bad idea. He dropped his hand and swallowed at the sheer fury that filled Harry’s eyes. And Cisco felt a flush of anxiety in his own chest. He wasn’t good with yelling. In fact, he hated it. He had ever since Brian had tried to kill him.

“We have never, nor will we ever be in the business of war.” Harry didn’t raise his voice, but holy sh*t the tone. He took one very steady step toward Benson, looking him over, a realization of something important flashing in his eyes. “That’s what this about.” He glanced at the folders on his desk, turning away from him and snatching one, opening it a little harshly. His eyes scanned quickly and he looked straight back at Benson. “You gave the D.O.D. a proposal on S.T.A.R. Labs’ behalf?!” Harry snapped, then whipped the folder at him. Cisco cringed, setting his pencil down and standing, the anxiety blooming into something confusing, because he wasn’t afraid of Harry. In fact, he was totally on Harry’s side with this and knew Harry’s anger wouldn’t be directed toward him. Ever. Still… he couldn’t just sit there. Benson backed up.

“You told me-“ Benson pointed right at him, “The board approved opening up the floor to potential partnerships within the economic-“

“Private sector contributors!” Harry yelled, “The board approved entry level private sector contributors looking to expand, not government war horses!”

“How do you plan on getting ahead of Liberty by partnering with no-name affiliates?!” Benson yelled back. And Cisco instantly hurried around the table, getting in between them. It was a really good thing he did because he literally had to push Harry back, the taller man already raising an actual fist to clock Benson with. Benson looked instantly confused at Cisco’s sudden presence.

“Harry stop!” He put his hand flat on Harry’s chest, “And you back off!” Cisco snapped at Benson, pointing right at him. “You both need to calm down.”

“Who are you again?” Benson said sharply, then looked right at Harry. “Because I’m the guy who just spent the last six months putting together a proposal-“ he pointed at the strewn papers on the floor, “That will land us a spot in the history books, and you want to throw it away because you’d rather try to save the little guy and play house with no-names?”

“You’re fired.” Harry said somehow very calmly, despite the undertone of sheer spite. Benson’s whole body froze. Cisco lowered his hand, looking back at Harry. The sight of him caused an instant pull. Slowly, he backed up, standing somewhat in front of his boyfriend, looking back at Benson.

“You can’t be serious.” He scoffed.

“You forget, Benson…” Harry put a hand on Cisco’s shoulder, warm and large, and Cisco thought maybe he needed the feel of him. “I know where you came from. I found you in the bowels of a community college in the middle of a nowhere farming town, living in a motel, with a name no one would have ever heard. The name you have for yourself now is because of me. Because I gave you the chance to prove your worth, because of the chance I took on you. A mistake I am now rescinding.”

“Doctor Wells… You can’t…” He heaved a breath, eyes darting from Harry to Cisco and back again, finally looking afraid. “I care about the labs. I care about the people in it. I care about you!” He pleaded, “Don’t you think I’m grateful? For every opportunity you’ve given me? Why else would I do this? Why else would I try to help this company grow to its full potential?”

“Full potential?” Harry stepped up beside Cisco, and instantly Cisco put his hand around his waist, looking up at him. sh*t, he looked beyond furious. “This company doesn’t need help with that. The people here reach that potential and surpass it every day without needing blood money to do it.”

“How are you this high and mighty?” Benson asked, shaking his head, hands going to his hips in slight disbelief. “You live in a glorified castle on a hill like a king, staring down at this city like everyone in it should answer to you and no one else. You railroaded competitors in the field at the start to make sure no one spoke any name but S.T.A.R. Labs. You kept the accelerator compartmentalized and secret so no one else could take it, so no one else could profit from it. Only you. Only S.T.A.R. Labs. You’re ruthless and controlling. And I knew all that long before I came to work here. I heard the stories, Wells.” He looked right at Cisco. “We all did.” He looked back at Harry. “How many bodies are you hiding, Doctor? You can act all fatherly with your daughter in front of people and hope that overshadows the way you bulldozer through everyone, you can even date a token employee and hope that makes people think you have a heart. But you are just as much of a monster as-“

The sound of Harry hitting Benson in the jaw was a lot louder than Cisco thought something like that could be. Benson’s head whipped back and he staggered straight into the wall, so hard that the picture of the opening day of the labs that was hanging on it shook and fell off, shattering on the floor.

“Holy sh*t!” Cisco yelped, grabbing onto Harry with both hands. But Harry was a whole lot stronger than him at that moment, fueled by his fury as he yanked himself free. He went straight for Benson, grabbing him by the jacket and hoisting him flat against the wall. Blood was trickling down his jaw from the corner of his mouth and his eyes went wide as he clung to both of Harry’s upper arms.

“Everything that I sacrificed, everything I gave to make this company a reality, every boot that kicked me on the way up, including my father’s, is why I live on that hill. I didn’t compartmentalize the accelerator to keep it away from people, I did it to keep it from the government. I’m not above the city because I think I own it, I’m above it because I’m watching over it. Because of people who would tear it down instead of build it up. People like you, who would rather cut jobs than make new ones, who would rather pay minimum wage than a living wage, who would rather make weapons and profit from the bloodshed than share the peace that comes with collaboration.” He shoved Benson a little further into the wall, and Cisco stood there watching and listening to it all, completely unsure of what he was supposed to be doing.

If he was being honest, he wanted to let Harry beat the sh*t out of that guy.

“You. Are. Fired.” He enunciated each word clearly. “I’ll be bringing up charges of corporate espionage. The name I helped you make won’t be worth more than the dirt beneath your shoes.”

“P-please, don’t-“

“And if you ever talk about my daughter or my fiancé again, if you so much as mutter their names or elude to their existence, I’ll show you how many bodies there are.” He let him go roughly, stepping back. Benson tipped a little sideways, hastily righting himself. “Ramon, call security… please.” He added without looking at him, eyes completely locked on Benson, who quickly ran his hand across his bleeding lip. Cisco nodded wordlessly, turning toward Harry’s desk and grabbing the phone without question. “You’ll get your severance, your last pay. Not a penny more. And if you think you can fight it, keep in mind how many lawyers I’ve helped get names, too.”

“Like I said…” Benson breathed out, swallowing a little as he straightened out his suit jacket, “Just as much of a monster as your father.” He turned away quickly, not waiting for Harry to hit him again. When security answered, Cisco gave them a quick, very abridged version of events and what Harry wanted. When he hung up, Harry was still standing there, hands on his hips, staring down at the shattered picture frame on the floor. Two of the knuckles on his left hand looked red.

Carefully, Cisco went to him, moving quietly in front of him. Harry blinked at his presence, brows tight and jaw clenching. Slowly, he reached forward and took Harry’s hand, pulling it into view. Harry’s fingers relaxed in increments, and Cisco held them in both hands, gently running his thumb over the knuckles.

“Are you okay?” Cisco asked, watching Harry close his eyes and sigh through his nostrils.

“I’m sorry… you saw all that.” He shook his head, pulling his hand away from Cisco before opening his eyes. It seemed like he wanted to say so much more, but he couldn’t. Something was stopping him. And Cisco could practically feel the negative energy rolling off him in waves.

“I’m… I’m not.” Cisco said lightly. Harry’s eyes moved over his in confusion. “I’m not admittedly a fan of yelling or fighting, but… I get what you were saying about your temper now.” Harry’s brows lifted a little.

“I would never-“

“No, of course you wouldn’t.” Cisco stepped into him, knowing immediately what Harry was alluding to. “You’d never hit me.” He nodded firmly, holding onto Harry’s hands. “I meant… I get now why you think your anger is so bad, but it’s really not.”

“I’m… confused.” Harry said slowly. And Cisco smiled a little.

“All those stories about you that everyone tells… have you ever really listened to them?

“No. I make it a point not to.”

“Harry, when people talk about you getting agitated and frustrated all the time, they always say it’s because you care so damn much.” Cisco explained, searching his eyes. “And just now, you didn’t really get angry until he threatened the labs. You didn’t hit him until he talked bad about your relationships.” Harry’s eyes looked past him, like he was thinking over what had happened. “That is not a bad thing at all, just so you know. In fact, it’s-“ He paused, his own brows going up as something occurred to him. “You told Benson I’m your fiancé.” He blurted, and Harry’s eyes darted back down. He looked like a little like Cisco was giving him whiplash. And Cisco softly laughed. “Sorry, I know that’s not important right now.” Harry’s jaw clenched a little and he nodded. Then he pulled his hands away before sighing heavily and grabbed Cisco, tugging him right into himself.

“Regardless if you think my anger isn’t bad, I am sorry, Ramon. I should have been more mindful of your presence. I… I didn’t stop to think about what… what it would feel like for you. I can’t always think clearly when I’m like this.” He settled his face down, turned slightly into Cisco’s hair. “The last thing I want to do is scare you or hurt you.” Cisco was smiling instantly.

“You don’t scare me, you big teddy bear.”

“Oh, no.” Harry shook his head as he lifted it, “I disagree with the use of ‘teddy bear.’”

“Why? Because you have a reputation to uphold?”

“Damn right, I do.” He nodded firmly, and Cisco chuckled at him. But Harry’s eyes slowly turned serious again. “He said I’m like my father…” He glanced over at the open door and Cisco reached up, smoothing his hand over his cheek and turning his attention back to him.

“You are not your father.” Cisco said firmly, needing him to hear it. Needing him to believe it.

“I know.” Harry’s voice was achingly soft. “I’ve done everything I could not to be. But I’m pretty sure I inherited his temper.” Harry pulled away from him, stepping past him to the broken picture on the floor. He crouched down, picking up the frame, holding it horizontally to let some of the glass fall off of it. Then he turned the picture itself to look at it. Cisco crouched across from him, and Harry held the frame toward him. He took it quietly. “The day we broke ground on the labs, he tried to contact me through a third party. I didn’t ask why, and I never contacted him back. When the accelerator came online, he tried again. To broker a deal. Something that could financially benefit us both. I publicly denounced making deals with conglomerates on the same day. I can only imagine how furious that made him.” They both stood, one at a time, and Cisco looked down at the hundreds of faces gathered in front of the construction site. Harry wasn’t even at the center. He was standing off to the right, near the end of the group. As though it had never been about him.

“I’d like to marry you tomorrow.” Cisco said, nearly grinning as he looked back up at him. Harry’s expression softened almost instantly. “Do you think a Monday wedding would be tacky?”

“Why would anyone want to get married on a Monday?” Barry’s voice made them both look at the doorway as he strolled in, though his steps slowed and his brows went up when he saw the papers everywhere and the glass on the floor. “Woah. Who pissed you off this time?” He looked right at Harry, who sighed heavily and crossed his arms.

“It’s a long story.” Cisco said, moving over to Harry’s desk and setting the picture down carefully. “What’re you doing here? I thought you were running errands for Iris.” He turned back around just as Barry bent down to grab one of the papers. His eyes moved over a chunk of information and his jaw nearly dropped, turning very quickly to look at Harry.

“No, uh-uh.” Harry walked over and snatched the paper out of his hand.

“Please tell me you didn’t murder whoever wrote that up.” Barry put his hands up in surrender, but was hardly blinking as he watched Harry.

“There was no murdering. Just… a little simple assault and firing.” Cisco stepped between them, crouching again to start gathering the rest of the papers. Barry snorted a little, dropping his hands.

“You punched someone, didn’t you.” He motioned to the bruises appearing on Harry’s knuckles. “Was it one of the top three?” Barry wiggled his brows a little. “Olson, Benson, or Stevens?” Cisco craned his neck to look up at Barry.

“Benson. How’d you know? What the heck is the top three?”

“It’s the ridiculous name he’s given the people I apparently like the least this month.” Harry sighed, reaching down and taking the piled up papers from Cisco.

“Not just this month. Benson has been on your sh*t list for like a year and a half. I’m honestly surprised it took you this long to collect his teeth.”

“Okay, we’re done talking about that.” Cisco finally stood up with the empty folder, reaching out and setting it on Harry’s desk. “What’re you doing here?” He asked again, smiling and crossing his arms lazily.

“I went in your apartment like you said I could. But things were… wrong.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket, turning it on and swiping at the screen. “I was thinking poltergeist at first. Which would make way more sense than you two leaving everything open and on.” Then he stood beside Cisco, hesitating a moment. “It’s not good, man. But… I wanted to show you this in person. I’m right here, okay?” Barry motioned toward Harry. “We’re both right here.”

“Dude…” Cisco said softly, feeling something clutching his stomach. “You’re worrying me.”

“I know. And I’m sorry, man.” He looked very, very serious. Then he pressed play on a video. Cisco tensed as he looked down at the screen.

Barry had recorded his apartment, standing somewhere in the middle, panning slowly. He could hear the radio and the TV, both on though not loudly. And every single one of Cisco’s drawers, doors, and cabinets were opened by barely an inch.

His dresser, the kitchen cabinets, the counter drawers, even the bathroom door. And as Barry panned past the bed, Cisco saw his bedside drawers were exactly the same. Only that’s not what made him quickly grab the phone out of Barry’s hand and rewind the video.

It was the bed. It was exactly as he and Harry had made it before leaving, except the red blanket had been folded up into an odd triangle, and sitting right on top was a bouquet of flowers, big with orange petals and green leaves.

Tiger lilies.

So many f*cking tiger lilies.

He nearly dropped the phone, backing up like it had bitten him, not realizing Harry was right behind him. He yelped a little, spinning at the feel of Harry’s form, his hands coming up.

“Woah, Cisco.” Barry said, and Harry’s hands were out open and empty, brows up questioningly. “Hey, it’s okay.”

“N-no, no it’s not.” Cisco stammered out, pacing quickly away, hands wringing as his whole body buzzed. “We… we gotta call Joe. Did you call Joe?!” He spun back around, eyes wide and throat choking with panic. Barry slowly put his phone in his pocket, nodding.

“Yes, he’s there right now. He’s got a couple of officers with him.” He said carefully.

“What’s going on?” Harry demanded, eyes darting from one man to the other.

“The flowers, Harry!” Cisco blurted, like that should have told him everything. He squeezed his eyes shut, hands coming up to his forehead and hair, ears ringing. He swore the scar on his head hurt, even the one on his ribs.

“Tiger lilies.” Barry said quietly, “They were Brian’s thing. He used to leave them after he’d hurt Cisco. As an apology. The last time was a week before he assaulted him. He’d given him a bloody nose for leaving a cabinet door open.”

“Jesus f*ck.” Harry whispered. “Ramon?” He said much more calmly than Cisco thought was warranted. Wasn’t this a thing to panic about? Wasn’t this some sort of nightmare? It had to be. This was a nightmare. A disgusting, awful nightmare. “Hey, look at me…” He felt Harry’s very gentle touch on his wrists. And he didn’t mean to, but he cringed. Like that wasn’t what he’d expected to feel. And maybe it wasn’t, maybe he’d expected something more like a fist or a boot. He let Harry pull his hands down, however, and a sob escaped when he opened his eyes and saw Harry looking at him with such worry and love.

“He’s dead, right?” He practically begged. Barry came up beside them, smoothing his hand down Cisco’s back. “It can’t be him. He died, Joe said he died, so it can’t be him, right?!”

“Cisco…” Barry looked just as worried as Harry did. “Look, Joe said I should keep you here. There’s stuff that he learned last night that he was going to talk to you about in person. But with the gala and then Caitlin, he decided to wait till today. Only… now...” He glanced at Harry and then stepped closer to Cisco, reaching up and grabbing the back of his head, pressing their foreheads together. Cisco shuddered another small sob, squeezing his eyes shut again. The familiarity of Barry’s hold wasn’t lost on him. He’d done that more than once since they’d known each other, always willing to be a rock when Cisco needed it. “Listen to me, okay? Whatever this is, whosever idea of a sick joke this was, Joe will take care of it. For right now, we gotta take care of you.”

“M-my cat,” he sucked in a small breath, “Molly, she’s-“

“She’s fine. She’s perfectly okay. She was under your bed, grumpy as ever, when I got there.” Barry assured.

And just like that, Cisco felt all the strength drive out of him. He wasn’t sure why that was what did it, but he was going down, knees giving out. Both Harry and Barry held on to him, turning him and guiding him down to the floor, legs ending up half in Barry’s lap with his back against Harry’s chest.

“You’re alright, beautiful, you’re safe.” Harry whispered in his ear, arm wrapped around his chest, hand gripping his shoulder. His other hand held onto Cisco’s ribs. Cisco kept his eyes closed, nodding, trying so hard to remember how to breathe. But his chest hurt, and his breaths came out rapid and uncontrolled. It felt like sucking air through a straw. He felt dizzy and nauseous at the same time.

sh*t. It was a panic attack. That’s what this was. f*ck, he hadn’t had one of these in so long. Everything felt hyper stimulated and wrong. And he felt Barry’s hand on the outside of his leg. He reached for it, grabbing Barry’s hand and holding on for dear life while he turned his face down into Harry’s forearm, reaching up and gripping it.

“Slow down.” Harry whispered gently, “Feel me breathing. Follow my lead.”

“Deep breaths, Cisco.” Barry said softly. And he nodded again, still keeping his eyes shut. He focused on the feel of Harry’s chest rising and falling against his back. And he forced himself to start breathing in tune with him. “That’s it.” He felt Barry’s hand go over the top of his, enfolding it in both of his own, warm and steady. “We’ve got you.”

He wasn’t sure how much time passed, but eventually he was breathing far more normally. His face was wet from tears and every limb felt like jello. He was completely relaxed in the hold of both men, slowly blinking his eyes open to see Barry in front of him. He hadn’t realized it before, but both of his legs were somewhat tangled with Barry’s. Cisco was flush up against Harry’s chest with his longer legs to either side of both Barry and Cisco. And Cisco was cracking a smile before he knew it.

“We are the weirdest looking grown man pile I’ve ever seen.” He said. Barry chuckled softly, squeezing Cisco’s hand.

“It’s like the greatest wet dream ever.” Barry remarked. “Which, again, is coming from the straightest man in the room.” Even Harry laughed at that one, the sound remarkably soft beside Cisco’s ear. He swallowed, and shuddered out a deep breath before loosening his hold on them both, wiping at his face with both hands right after.

“I’m sorry, about the panic attack,” He said, dropping his hands to Harry’s knees. “It’s been a really long time since-“

“Don’t.” Harry said, and he felt his lips brush over the side of Cisco’s face. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

“Think you can stand?” Barry asked, soft concern lacing his features.

“I can try. I’m… a little shaky, I think.”

“We’ll go slow.” Harry commented. And they did. Both of them helped him up, Harry leading him to the white couch that sat against one of Harry’s office windows as Barry’s phone rang again.

“It’s Joe.” He gave Harry an unreadable look and then smiled at Cisco. “I’ll be back in a sec, okay?” Cisco wanted to tell him not to walk off, but the moment his body relaxed on the couch was the moment he felt exhaustion wash over him. Panic attacks always used to take it out of him. He used to equate them to an energy draining demon, possessing him just long enough to make him want to sleep for a year. Harry settled beside him, draping his arm over the back of the couch and letting Cisco lean into his side. Cisco curled his hand around Harry’s thigh and closed his eyes.

“He’s dead.” Cisco whispered. “Harry, he has to be dead.”

Harry didn’t respond beyond kissing Cisco’s head and relaxing against him.

The silence felt more like an answer than any words ever could.

Chapter 29: “Not without you.”

Chapter Text

Harry looked down as the cat very carefully began to inch her way out from underneath the couch. It had been a hell of a feat, getting herself under there in the first place. And she’d been there for hours. But now that it was around two in the morning and the house was quieter than it had been in hours, she seemed to think it might be a good idea to venture. He’d wondered when she’d get around to it. Having her here was going to be interesting, at least in as much as Harry had no idea how to interact with her. It was going to be a learning curve for them both. But he’d figure it out for Ramon.

Detective Joe West had shown up at S.T.A.R. Labs about an hour after Ramon’s panic attack. And the information he had to give was both startling and disturbing. The night before, another Detective from St. Louis called to inform him that three people had been brutally murdered in the last four months, each in a different city, all with direct connections to Brian Reed. They’d each put restraining orders out on him when he’d been alive, for being abusive, coupled with warrants for Reed’s arrest. And when they’d all been killed, no one had thought to look for a dead man until a random officer figured it out. By the time Joe got the update, they’d already been on their way to the hospital with Snow.

It didn’t make sense why it was all happening now. It had been three years since Reed had died in a fiery crash. Three years since he’d tried to kill Ramon. It was even longer before that for each of Reed's old relationships. So why was someone suddenly killing off Reed’s exes?

Ramon was convinced it wasn’t just someone pretending to be Reed, or someone trying to get revenge. He was sure it actually was Reed. Between the flowers and the open cabinets, and the fact his cat was unharmed, to Ramon it all added up. Apparently, no one but Barry and Caitlin knew about Reed’s obsession with using tiger lilies to apologize. And Ramon thought the cabinets and drawers all being open was a direct jab at him.

Detective West couldn’t say who it was, either way. But all signs were pointing to Reed, in one way or another, dead or alive. And then there were the phone calls on top of everything they knew. Joe was convinced it was too coincidental to not be connected. And Harry unfortunately had to agree. Though there had been a moment when Detective West queried whether or not this could be something to do with Harry.

“It may not be about Cisco.” Joe had said, eyes flicking to Harry. And he stiffened at the words, jaw clenching. “You’ve got your own share of enemies, Harry. You know it’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone is targeting Cisco because of his connection to you, especially after so publicly announcing your relationship last night.”

“If someone is trying to send a message to me, why use a dead man’s M.O.? And how would they even know about the flowers?” Harry demanded.

“How would they have access to a secure phone number?” Joe countered and Harry had to fight the urge to protest. “Tell me about the phone calls.” He said quietly, both of them looking at Barry and Cisco on the couch. Ramon was calmer, but seemed like he needed someone near. When Joe had shown up, he’d asked to speak to Harry first, which had been a little confusing. Though he understood it more as the conversation went on.

“You’re right about my phone being secure. I don’t get random calls. But a number I didn’t recognize called around eleven this morning. I could hear a car in the background and breathing, but no one spoke so I hung up. I wrote it off as an accidental dialing. I didn’t think anything of it until the same number called Ramon’s phone right before Allen did. We both blocked the number.”

“Do you remember the number?” Joe asked, and Harry gave a very reproving look, pulling out his phone. He sent a quick text, and Joe’s phone beeped in his pocket. He pulled it out and smirked when he saw the text. “That’s right, Barry said you have a photographic memory.”

“Eidetic, not photographic.” Harry corrected sternly.

“Same thing. Looks like a New York number. I’ll have the techs run a trace.” He typed out a quick text of his own before putting his phone back and nodding in Barry and Ramon’s direction. “So you and Cisco.” Detective West said from beside him. Harry inhaled quickly, turning just his head to look at him. He had a great deal of respect for Detective West. They’d run across each other several times now, thanks to Allen. And though they typically reacted with the same short demeanor toward each other, Harry found his company… not terrible. “That’s a big deal.” Joe looked at him, motioning at Cisco. “Are you sure it’s a good idea?”

“What?” Harry’s brows furrowed and he turned, crossing his arms defensively. West looked calm, but knowing.

“You two are from entirely different worlds, Harry. That man right there,” He looked at Cisco as Barry showed him something on his phone, “Has been through more hell in his life than anyone I know. And he's never let it beat him down. He’s never stopped fighting for something better. He changes everyone’s lives in really good ways just by showing up. Which… I suppose that’s what drew you to him in the first place, isn’t it.” Joe wasn’t asking, but he sighed, turning to face Harry fully.

“Three years ago, I was the first cop on scene after Reed assaulted him. I’d heard Cisco’s address go out on the radio and I was nearby. I pulled up just as the paramedics did. When I saw him, I didn’t think there was any way he was going to survive that. What that son of a bitch did to him… I was glad when we found Reed dead. Glad for Cisco. And I’ve never wanted anyone dead before, which tells you something.” He looked back at Harry. “You see… Cisco means everything to Iris and Barry, to Caitlin and Ronnie. I don’t think anyone realizes how close they all are. There wasn’t a day during his recovery that they all weren’t together one way or another. They were all involved, taking care of him or making him take care of himself. Which meant I was involved. Which also means I’ve grown pretty fond of him.”

“If you’re about to tell me not to hurt him-“

“You’re damn right I am.” Joe said, still strangely calm. Not even a hint of threat in his words, despite the meaning behind them. “Or I was going to. Until I saw you with him when I got here.” He motioned his head toward the doorway. And he got very quiet for a moment, uncomfortably so, looking Harry over before he nodded. “You’re in love with him, aren’t you. Really in love. This isn’t just a fling for you.” Harry looked down, eyes landing on his desk as he centered himself and clenched his jaw before glaring back at Joe. He was still reeling from the interaction with Benson, and now all this? His anger was dangerously close to becoming rage, and he needed to reel it in for Ramon’s sake.

“Do I strike you as the sort of man who has flings?” Harry groused. Joe’s expression softened.

“Can’t blame me for thinking it, Harry. Like I said… you’re both from entirely different worlds. Rich, powerful CEO of the biggest scientific giant on the planet who has never spoken of or publicized any relationship, and you’re suddenly openly with a man who works for you, one whose most pricey personal possession is a secondhand television? Color me curious. I know I don’t know you as well as I know them, but-“

“Ramon could never be… just a fling.” He interrupted firmly, “And yes, I’m in love with him. I won’t hurt him. I’d rather rip my own heart out.” He knew it sounded poetic, even to himself. He was used to the perception, that because he had money and power, he couldn’t possibly care for anyone ‘beneath’ him. He hated it. He really f*cking did. “I don’t care about what appearances assume I should be.” Joe smiled at that before he reached out and clapped Harry on the shoulder.

“I know. Barry and the others told me all about you. You’ve never acted like you were better than the people you work with, or those who work for you. You treat the janitor the same way you’d treat a president. And you’re kind, Harry. You’ve got a big heart. I saw that for myself a few minutes ago.”

“Then why bother bringing it up?” He demanded, and Joe shrugged.

“Because I wouldn’t be much of a group-dad if I didn’t.” He smirked, “And… honestly? I never could’ve seen this one coming. And I’m a Detective. I’m a little disappointed in myself.” He winked at Harry, “I’m going to hold you to what you said about not hurting him, for the record.” He said as his phone started ringing. He put up a finger and wandered away, holding his phone to his ear, leaving Harry staring at Cisco, who looked back at him with a tired but real smile…

West was right about how much Ramon meant to everyone. It was clear as day in the way they all interacted with each other. He’d seen for himself how attached Cisco was to the group, and how attached the group was to him. It had made him feel like an outsider more than once, not because they hadn’t tried to welcome him. But because they had… and he didn’t know what he was supposed to do about it.

For far too long, Jesse had been the only family he’d had and needed. Or that’s what he’d convinced himself of. Now… he was beginning to think what he wanted was far more valid. And what he wanted was steadily becoming clearer as the days had gone on. It was why he’d said yes to Ramon.

He was still reeling from that a little, too. When he’d realized what Ramon was asking him, he’d felt like the other shoe had finally dropped. The rug had been pulled out from underneath him. The sky was finally falling on him. Because Cisco couldn’t have possibly meant it. Looking at it logically, there was no way it made sense. Not that soon, and not with Harry. The infinite number of things they didn’t know about one another could wrap around S.T.A.R. Labs a million times. That alone should have been a deterrent for something so incredibly life changing. But not for Cisco… and apparently not for himself.

Part of him had been holding on to the idea of Francisco Ramon since the day he’d almost died, staring at his name on a plaque. Now every part of him wanted to hold on to the much greater reality of the man Cisco was. The man who was, currently, sleeping in Harry’s bed.

After Detective West’s visit, Harry had taken Ramon home with him. Barry followed. And they’d found a police cruiser, assigned by Joe, waiting along with Iris and Ronnie who had Cisco’s cat in a carrier, two duffle bags full of clothes that Joe had let them grab, and apparently everything the cat needed. At first, Cisco had been flustered. He told Ronnie he shouldn’t have come. But Ronnie told him that Caitlin would have crawled out of her hospital bed if he hadn’t. The amount of support Cisco had was endless. And Harry was happy about that.

Eventually, Ramon had gotten too tired to function. The panic attack had completely exhausted him, and the emotional roller coaster ride hadn’t helped any, Harry was sure. The others left once they were certain he was going to be okay with Harry. And the cruiser sat parked outside on a babysitting detail that Harry gave Joe an earful for. He understood the caution, but he hardly thought anyone would be stupid enough to go after him now. Joe finally relented and told the patrol to park at the end of the drive. After making sure Ramon was settled, however, Harry couldn’t fall asleep. His mind was reeling with too many things, good and bad. So he’d busied himself with trying to sort his own thoughts.

Harry turned his whiskey glass slowly from where he sat at the countertop in the kitchen, moving one of the papers in front of him out of the way for the next. Reed’s profile had been easy to scrounge up. Most of his records had been made public since his death. The man bounced around from place to place, very rarely settling anywhere for long. In fact, it looked like he’d been with Ramon the longest. A thought that made Harry roll his shoulder before reaching up and pinching the bridge of his nose for a moment, breathing heavily. He heard the papers shift on the countertop and he dropped his hand to see the cat wide eyed and nervously sniffing.

“Hey, no, off the counter.” He grumped, standing up and grabbing her, she went nearly limp in his hold, letting him lower her back down to the floor. She meowed, then rubbed herself against his leg. “Go explore or… eat food. Something. Anything else.” He put his hands on his hips, staring down at her. She meowed again, very loudly. “I have no idea what you’re saying.”

“She’s saying she wants attention.” Cisco’s soft voice made Harry drop his hands from his hips and turn to see him leaning against the fridge. His hair was a little disheveled. He was wearing an oversized navy blue sweatshirt and matching sweatpants, black socks on his feet. He was smiling lightly, fondly looking from the cat to Harry in slight humor. “Ya know, cause she likes you.” He motioned with one hand, which was barely visible in the overly long sleeve. “And you make her feel safe. You’re good at that.” Harry watched him blink a little heavily, obviously still tired.

“You should be sleeping.” He said softly. Cisco shrugged and stepped further in, stopping to bend over and pet the cat before he kept going. He didn’t stop till he got to the counter, hands disappearing in his sleeves for a moment as he looked over the papers Harry had spread out. He’d already seen them, but he furrowed his brows as his eyes took in the words again. He shook his left sleeve a little, popping his fingers out, and he reached for Harry’s glass, lifting it to his nose as he turned away, resting his lower back against the counter. He sniffed it for a second, then took a sip, closing his eyes momentarily as the alcohol no doubt burned its way down his throat.

“Phew,” He shook his head a little, looking over at Harry with a light smirk. “This stuff’s like jet fuel.”

“Philistine.” Harry smirked back, and Ramon snorted lightly.

“I don’t drink much.” He looked back down into the amber liquid, then took another much longer swig, downing the last of what was in the glass. He breathed out sharply after, making a slight face before he set the glass down behind him without looking. “Yup, definitely jet fuel.” He tucked his hand back into his sleeve, then roamed his eyes over Harry’s form. “Why are you still up?” Harry quietly moved toward him, reaching out and smoothing both hands through his hair. Instantly, Cisco’s eyes closed.

“I didn’t want to risk waking you. My head wouldn’t shut up. I tend to get restless when that happens.” He admitted, and Ramon blinked his dark eyes open. Harry dropped his hands to Cisco’s shoulders.

“Are you restless now?”

“A little.” He glanced at the whisky glass. “I was attempting to get my brain to shut up. But you just drank the last of my nightcap.” He smiled wryly, looking back at him. Ramon smiled back, though his was far more delicate.

“Do you think…” he paused, glancing down at Harry’s chest in thought, “Do you think I’m crazy?”

“What? Why would you ask that?”

“Because I think Brian’s alive.” Cisco remarked softly without looking at him, “And you haven’t said what you think about any of it.”

“Ramon, no.” He shook his head, “I don’t think you’re crazy.” He furrowed his brows a little. “I think… we have to exhaust all possibilities, and I think Detective West-“ He paused, watching the almost frustrated way Ramon looked back up at him. Harry took a deep breath, and let it out very slowly. “He posited that this could be because of me.” That made Cisco’s brows go up slightly.

“How does that make any sense?” He asked pointedly. And Harry slid his hands down his arms, gripping his palms. Ramon’s fingers curled in the sweatshirt sleeves, holding on.

“He questioned the timing. And the appearance of… our relationship.” He said, and a slow realization came over Cisco’s features.

“He thinks someone is doing this because we went public at the gala?” Ramon huffed a rueful laugh, “That’s-“

“Crazy?” Harry asked. And Cisco closed his mouth, eyes roaming seriously over his. “Ramon, I’m in a position of perception. People have their ideas about me, you saw that with the reporters, and Benson. You know the stories. You know the assumptions. It wouldn’t be the first time someone’s threatened me, or tried to hurt me. It’s just… odd that they would want to hurt you because of me.”

“What about Brian’s other victims?” Ramon countered, “I think that’s a little more concrete than a theory about your crazy fan club looking for payback because you have a boyfriend.”

“It is, I agree. And so does Detective West. But he still needs to cover his bases. He still needs to do his job and look out for you.” He replied, then looked away as the conversation he’d had with Joe flooded back through his head again.

“What? What’s that look for?” Cisco demanded, pushing away from the counter and closer to him.

“It wasn’t the only thing the Detective questioned me about.” He said, and Cisco’s expression turned slightly stern. “He cares a great deal about your well-being.” Ramon clenched his jaw a little, then shook his head.

“He asked you if you were serious about me, didn’t he.” Ramon said, and Harry could only nod at that. “I love Joe, I really do. But he doesn’t get to do that.”

“Ramon,” Harry pulled him close, clasping his hands at his lower back. Cisco rested his hands on Harry’s arms. “You can’t be angry at him for caring. Or are you angry about something else?”

“No.” He said quickly, then frowned at his own answer. “Maybe.” He flopped his head forward, sighing into Harry’s shoulder. “Okay, yes. I’m just… thrown by all this. Joe was the one who told me Brian was dead.”

“He didn’t lie to you. He had every reason to believe that Brian died. They had a body. An officer witnessed the crash.” Harry smoothed a hand up and down Cisco’s spine. “Detective West wouldn’t have stopped hunting for him if he was still alive. You know that.” Ramon was quiet for a long stretch of time, and Harry watched as the cat jumped back on the counter. He frowned at her and she sat right down on the papers.

“I don’t mean to be angry.” Ramon half-whispered. “I just need a minute with it, I think.”

“You can take all the minutes you need.” Harry pulled him back gently, “As long as you go back to bed. You need rest.”

“Not without you.” He almost sounded pleading, even… scared? Harry didn’t like that look in his eyes. Ramon cleared his throat a little, smoothing a hand over Harry’s chest. “I don’t want to be alone. I… I want you to hold me. Can we do that?”

“Of course.” Harry said instantly, feeling his heart tug. “You never have to ask.” Cisco’s smile was small but relieved. And he rose up just enough to brush his lips over Harry’s. Moments later, the lights were off and Harry was changed into his own sweatpants and t-shirt. Ramon was curled right into him, holding Harry’s arms tight around him, his back to Harry’s chest.

“What if it really is him?” Cisco whispered in the dark. And Harry closed his eyes, pressing a kiss to his shoulder.

“If it is… I won’t let him hurt you. I’ll kill him if he tries.”

He had a feeling Ramon knew he meant every word. Not only that, he knew Ramon believed it. Probably because of what he’d seen during Benson’s interaction with him. And he relaxed entirely in Harry’s hold, as though the idea that Harry was not only ready but willing to do as he said made him feel safer than anything else could. Eventually, Cisco’s breathing leveled out as sleep took him again. And Harry concentrated on the sound of his breaths and the feel of his body in his arms.

“I love you.” He whispered, right before he too let sleep take completely over.

Chapter 30: "Please let me."

Chapter Text

Two days went by with no further phantom phone calls or break-ins or ghosts. In fact, everything was so insanely normal that Cisco felt a bit like reality wasn’t properly calibrated. Like someone set the inner workings of the world a little off kilter, and he was constantly walking a little bit tilted to the left, waiting for things to right themselves in a more sensical way.

Harry had stayed home on Monday, working from his office and spending more time with Cisco than he probably should have. Cisco already knew he was behind from the weekend, but he was grateful that Harry saw him as a priority. He’d tried to convince Harry to go into work, but he’d flat out told Cisco ‘I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with me now, Ramon.’

He'd never felt safer in his life.

Which was incredible to recognize and feel. Every reason he should have been continuously afraid and here he was taking it moment by moment without the strangling panic and suffocating fear following him around. He focused on work, too. His laptop was a little beat up, but worked in a pinch. And though he had a lot of hands on work that he needed to get back to, he could use the excuse to get caught up on all the paperwork that he wasn’t normally very good at. By the end of the day Tuesday, he had most of his emails answered. That was an honest to goodness miracle.

“You’re gonna get ink in your mouth.” Harry’s voice made him look up. Cisco was sitting by the sliding windows in Harry’s room in a matching set of gray sweatshirt and sweatpants, his back to the glass, letting the chill of the rainy day outside seep into his back, hair up in a lazy ponytail with wisps casually framing his face, legs crisscrossed beneath him and laptop propped up on a small black step stool he’d found in Harry’s kitchen closet. He scrunched his nose a little, straightening up and dropping his hands from his keyboard as he moved the pen from one corner of his mouth to the next with his tongue and teeth.

“Wouldn’t be the first time. It’s a hyperfixation thing.” He grinned, then popped the somewhat chewed up pen out of his mouth, dropping it to the pile of papers beside him. Harry stopped just in front of him, crouching in front of him with an impossibly beautiful and damn fond smile. And Cisco was smiling back before he could stop himself. Harry held out a black mug, steam rising up from it, the smell of mint tea instantly appealing to the senses.

“Two sugars.” Harry said, dropping his hand when Cisco wrapped both of his around the mug.

“You’re spoiling me.” Cisco lifted it to his nose, closing his eyes as he inhaled it. Then he took a long, satisfying sip.

“Hardly.” Harry said, lowering himself to sit with one leg stretched out to the only uncluttered area near Cisco. He kept his other bent, hand hanging over his knee as he looked past Cisco to the rain outside. Cisco found his eyes completely drawn to him.

Cisco had figured out that Harry looked hard sometimes, especially in pictures, as though if he let his shields down, something nefarious might get in. Or maybe something bad about himself might get out. But when he was near Cisco, there was a much clearer softness, some kind of releasing of that tension and that fear that Cisco brought out in him just by being close. And Cisco didn’t have that kind of ego, but he loved to know he could do that to him. Seeing Harry that way, relaxed and calm, content to just be who and what he was without having to suppress any of himself in the process, was a delight. Slowly, his eyes made their way back to Cisco’s, and his face softened even more, blues quietly dancing over his browns.

“Are you, like… one hundred percent sure about not wanting to go to Vegas?” Cisco remarked, squinting just a little. Harry instantly chuckled, ducking his head a moment. “Because you keep making me happy. And that’s only going to make holding off on the ‘I-do’ thing harder and harder.” He grinned at the humor in Harry’s eyes.

“All I did was give you tea.”

“No, you gave me tea and looked at me like that.” Cisco pointed one finger at him, then set the cup aside. “You don’t get it, honey. I’m completely at your mercy when it comes to those eyes.” Harry kept staring at him affectionately. Cisco was beginning to think he could get used to that look and the way it made Harry’s eyes shine a little brighter. “Be honest,” Cisco reached forward, doing his best to tear his own gaze away as he moved the laptop and step stool aside, mindful of the tea. Then he scooted forward, right into Harry, draping his legs to either side of Harry’s hips. Harry smoothed his hands up the side of Cisco’s thighs immediately. “Are you feeling cooped up, being stuck in the house with me?”

“Mm, no.” Harry shook his head, eyes now looking over the way Cisco fit in his hold. Cisco draped his arms over Harry’s shoulders, hands hanging loosely behind him. “I’m getting less work done, but Jesse seems to think that’s a good thing.” He smirked, finally gliding his gaze back to Cisco’s. “You have to stop worrying about this. I want to be here.”

“I know you do. I know.” He nodded, “I just don’t want to be-“

“Ramon, don’t you dare say it.” Harry chastised quickly. And Cisco smiled sheepishly. He knew exactly what the ‘it’ in question was. It wasn’t the first time Cisco had brought up the idea that he might be a burden. Harry would have none of that the first time. It looked like he wouldn’t now, either.

“Okay, okay.” He relented, “Then can we at least… go back in to the office tomorrow?” He raised his brows, lifting his chin a little, gauging Harry’s reaction.

“No.” Harry said flatly. And Cisco chuckled.

“Harry, Joe already said we’d literally have a police escort, and you said yourself that the labs was the safest place on the planet. Safer than the Pentagon.”

“That’s because it is.” He moved his hands up to Cisco’s hips, “Between here and there is entirely not safe, I don’t care how many flashing light morons Joe assigns.” Cisco shook his head.

“Cops, Harry. Not morons.” He flopped one of his hands for emphasis. “Joe is a cop.”

“Joe is a Detective. Not a moron. Tweedle dee and tweedle dum outside? Both morons.” Harry affirmed. He didn’t like either of the police details that had been assigned to them so far, and he was most definitely not a fan of the two who were outside now. They had already asked for Harry’s autograph, asked to use the bathroom, and made an off-handed gay joke.

“Okay, so… some of them aren’t great.” He agreed, smiling like an idiot. Cisco’s phone started ringing as soon as he finished the sentence and he twisted himself around, trying to see where he put it. He kept his legs where they were, flopping backward a bit and shoving aside some of the papers to grab his phone. “It’s Caitlin.” He said chipperly, laying completely flat, except for his legs. Harry’s hands were back on his thighs. “Hiya, sunshine.” Cisco said after answering the video call.

‘Hi yourself.’ She looked absolutely ecstatic, though he noticed right away that her eyes were a little wet. And the phone began to focus down, held by someone else. Instantly, Cisco saw baby Mirabelle, cradled against Caitlin’s chest, skin to skin. She had a blanket over her breasts, but had both hands over the baby’s tiny body.

“Oh my god, you’re holding her!” Cisco beamed, then wagged a hand at Harry before grabbing him by the arm and tugging. Harry’s brows went up a little, and he shook his head before moving to line himself up with Cisco on the floor, which was as amusing as it sounded. But Cisco was too excited to appreciate the fact that he’d just gotten Harrison Wells to lay down on a floor with him, because the sleepy little princess flexed her tiny fingers and made a sound. “I didn’t think they’d let you hold her so soon.” He said, slightly in awe, hand curling around Harry’s arm.

‘Her lungs are a lot stronger than they thought. And skin to skin contact is really therapeutic.’ Her voice cracked a little. ‘Sorry, it’s just so good to feel her, ya know? Ronnie’s going to have his turn tomorrow. They don’t want to overwhelm her.’

‘I can’t wait.’ Ronnie’s voice came from behind the phone, and Cisco was grinning before he could stop himself.

‘What do you think, hm?’ Caitlin said, voice soft and tender as she talked to Mirabelle. ‘That’s your Uncle Cisco and your Uncle Harry.’ Cisco felt Harry’s body go a little rigid beside him and he glanced at him. Harry’s eyes were completely focused on the phone screen, something a little startled in his blues, though his face remained completely calm. Cisco leaned in and kissed his cheek softly, which made Harry blink and look at him, smiling slowly. ‘They’re going to spoil you rotten and teach you about things like… mechanical engineering, how to make the perfect taco, and how to save the world.’ Caitlin looked back at the phone, smiling so beautifully.

“Don’t forget poker. I am absolutely teaching her how to wipe the floor with Ronnie.”

‘Don’t you dare teach my daughter how to gamble. I already lose every time I play with you and Barry.’ Ronnie groused. Cisco and Caitlin both chuckled. ‘Teach her chess. I can win at chess.’

“Not if I teach her, you can’t.” Harry spoke up softly. And Caitlin’s smile only grew. “She’ll beat you in three moves, guaranteed.” Cisco couldn’t stop staring at him, then. That softness was everywhere. The kind, loving, almost always hidden center of Harrison Wells was in full view. And it damn near took Cisco’s breath away to see him so open with it, right in front of Caitlin and the baby.

‘She’s going to love that.’ Caitlin’s voice cracked a little. Then she wiped at one eye before smoothing her hand over Mirabelle’s head. ‘What have you two been up to?’

“Work.” Harry said plainly, and Cisco lifted his brows before looking back at Caitlin.

“Not entirely.” He corrected. “He’s been doting on me, and won’t stop.” He winked at her.

‘Good, let him.’ She said seriously, ‘Anymore news from Joe?’

“Not yet. Cameras across the street didn’t catch anything. Joe thinks whoever it was got in through the back door, but it doesn’t explain how they had the code. And there weren’t any prints but mine and Harry’s in the apartment.”

‘Anymore of the weird calls?’ Ronnie asked, finally getting in view, leaning against the bed Caitlin and Mirabelle were on.

“Nope. Nothing. And… honestly, I kind of want to stop worrying about it.”

‘Cisco-‘

“Look, guys, I appreciate the worry. I do. But I’m okay, really. I just want life to go back to normal, ya know? I want to come see you three, and I want both Harry and me to go back to work. I want to go to my apartment and get my conditioner.” He glanced at Harry and smiled, “No offense, honey, but yours is not meant for my hair.” Harry smirked ruefully. Cisco looked back. “And I don’t want to feel like I’m giving this asshole any power over me. Over any of us.”

‘I understand that.’ Caitlin said softly, ‘You know I do.’ And she did. She knew how hard he’d fought to rebuild his life after Brian. And she knew how determined he was not to let anything like that happen to him again. ‘But Cisco… if anything happens to you…’

“It won’t.” He tried to assure.

‘You can’t promise that.’ She said very softly. He could almost see something haunted go through her eyes. Cisco’s assault hadn’t only turned his life inside out. Caitlin and Barry had been the ones to help him heal, and that was not an easy task. Ronnie looked at her and leaned his forehead into her. ‘I love you too much, ya know. I can’t lose you.’

‘None of us can, Cisco.’ Ronnie said right after. Cisco felt his throat tighten.

“Snow,” Harry spoke, tone kind, and she blinked at him, “He’s safe with me. You need to know that. But he’s right. We can’t hide him away here as much as I may want to. I was willing to sequester him like this forever if it meant nothing bad would happen. But that takes away his choice. And I won’t do that.” Harry looked at him, and Cisco’s eyes began to burn. “We’re going back to the labs tomorrow morning. With a glorified police escort.” Harry sighed a little and looked back at the video call. “The labs are the safest place he can be. So we’ll start there, okay?”

‘Okay.’ Caitlin smiled a little. ‘Ya know, I kinda love you, too, Harry.’

“Nonsense. That’s the pain meds and dopamine talking.” Harry countered, though he cracked a light smile. And Caitlin chuckled. “Enjoy your time with Mirabelle. Both of you. Thank you for… letting us see this.” He motioned to the phone. And Ronnie nodded.

‘You’re both family.’ He said in way of explanation.

“Love you guys.” Cisco said, “Talk soon, okay?” They said their goodbyes and Cisco hung up, setting the phone down beside himself and staring up at the high ceiling. “Thank you, Harry.” He said, then turned into him, getting up on an elbow and grabbing Harry’s chin, meeting him almost face to face. Harry laid there, brilliant blues dancing over his browns. “And don’t you dare say you didn’t do anything. You know exactly what you just did.”

“All I’m doing, Ramon,” Harry lifted a hand and gently smoothed some wisps of hair away from Cisco’s face, “Is loving you.”

“Exactly.” Cisco whispered, then connected their mouths, relaxing his torso against Harry’s. And for a few blissful seconds, there was nothing else but the way Harry tasted and the feel of his hands sliding up Cisco’s back. Until the phone rang again. Only it was Harry’s phone this time. Cisco grumbled, pulling his mouth away, making Harry chuckle. Harry rifled into the pocket of his black jeans, pulling out his phone.

“It’s work.” He said quietly, but pressed his lips back to Cisco’s one more time before answering. Cisco smiled a little, then sat up a bit, maneuvering till he was straddling Harry’s waist, holding on to either side of Harry’s ribcage. Harry’s brows went up as he put the phone to his ear.

“What?” He asked, far less grumpy than he usually did, slipping his free hand up Cisco’s thigh. He would never get sick of this, he was certain of it. The closeness, the affection, the simple touches, the easy way they fell into one another, even if the world was crashing down. “No, those tests aren’t scheduled until Friday.” Harry’s eyes roamed down Cisco’s form. “That’s the protocol… yes… no,” Harry sighed a little, jaw flexing, “No. I’m assuming you’re making me repeat myself because you didn’t pay attention last week. So let me spell it out for you again.” Harry glanced back up at him and Cisco mouthed the words ‘be nice.’ Harry shook his head minutely, continuing.

“The updates need to be done in parts to ensure there isn’t any congestion in the system. So unless you want to set us back by, oh, I don’t know,” He paused, eyes looking away to glare at a spot on the ceiling, “Three months of hard work by doing something as stupid as pushing up a very specific timetable, I suggest you follow the protocol.” He snapped lightly. Cisco could practically feel the agitation rolling off him, and he raised his brows. Harry took a breath. “The timetable stays the same.” And he hung up the phone, setting it onto the floor beside him.

“What was that all about?” Cisco asked, and Harry’s eyes still seemed agitated at first.

“The base team is testing delay switches for the transfer cells in the accelerator.” He put both hands around Cisco’s upper arms.

“Right, I saw that on the specs when we were in the pipeline. Let me guess,” He lowered himself down into Harry’s hold, putting his hands on the floor to either side of Harry’s head, hovering over him. “Whoever it was thinks because the first batch of delay switches worked without impediment that there shouldn’t be any reason to not simply flip on the rest.” Harry’s eyes were nearly glued on him, and the agitation began to turn into something else. “But if there’s even one malfunctioning switch, the entire system will reset and shut down. Hence the individual rollouts.”

“You got all that just from seeing the specs.” Harry wasn’t really asking, but it sounded like a question. So, Cisco shrugged.

“Yeah, all the data showed steady connection, but there were still brief fluctuations so… it makes sense to do them one at a time.” He furrowed his brows in slight confusion, no idea why Harry was looking at him that way. Or what that way even was. “Doesn’t it?”

“The fluctuations… what would you do to correct that?” Harry asked, almost sharply, eyes moving over his very quickly. Cisco blinked.

“What would I-“ He paused, then pushed up, sitting entirely on Harry’s hips, dropping his hands to Harry’s stomach. Harry pushed up onto his elbows, watching him with a nearly piercing gaze. “I guess, I-“

“No, not ‘I guess.’ Tell me exactly what you would do.” Harry interrupted, and Cisco nodded once.

“It’s the domino effect.” He said softly. Harry’s brows tensed almost imperceptibly. “Standing a domino upright gives it potential energy based on its position. When the domino falls, much of its potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. Falling dominos slide against each other, and their bottoms slip against the surface they’re on, causing friction. And that in turn causes a chain reaction.” He relaxed a bit more when Harry sat fully up, bringing them nearly face to face.

“Keep going.” Harry urged.

“Um… whoever first implemented the delay switches probably had the idea that each switch needs to be individually controlled, so they set each to tumble without taking into consideration that if a domino falls too fast or too slow, it won’t complete the sequence. It’ll throw the whole thing off. The delay switches run off the same principle. The fluctuations are because they’re not all hitting at the right time. It’s just been luck that the system hasn’t reset. But that won’t last.”

“You still haven’t told me what you would do about it, Ramon.”

“Why are you so interested in-“

“Humor me.” Harry interrupted, again. Cisco frowned a little, but continued.

“There were two delay switches that I saw from the calculations that were at least point seven times too fast and one that was about as slow compared to the rest. So… yes, they need to be individually controlled, but no they shouldn’t be individually set to fall. The first delay should topple the next, and so on.” He moved his hands to Harry’s shoulders, feeling a bit like he was under a microscope, but also not willing to stop until he found out why Harry wanted to know all this.

“What made you think of this?” Harry asked pointedly. Cisco shook his head a little.

“People who competitively work with dominos will use slow motion caption to calculate and adjust multiple builds until they’re able to get the sequence correct. It’s how they can cause completely sequential falls without a single lost domino and no lost momentum. I think I could make an algorithm that would let us calculate the exact position of each switch, when the first needs to fall, and then let the delay switches handle the rest.”

“You’d let them fall like dominos.” Harry was very, very still as he said it.

“It’s… simple.” Cisco said, stuck on Harry’s gaze. “Isn’t it?” Right then, he felt Harry’s hand at the back of his head, fingers curling into his pulled up hair. And just like that, Harry’s mouth was on his. Not hard, not greedy, not like his eyes said he could have been. But oh so goddamn sensuously, slow and deep.

Cisco’s tongue met his without hesitation, his hands tightening on Harry’s shoulders as Harry’s other hand pressed into his back, bringing them flush together. It was about then that he realized Harry was hard. Very, very hard. Holy sh*t. Cisco moaned before he could stop himself, and Harry’s grip got tighter on his hair for the briefest moment, shooting a pang of electricity straight through Cisco’s body. His own dick was waking up very fast. The kiss steadied, slowed, and ended with Harry gently releasing his grip. Cisco pulled his mouth away, sucking in a deep breath and panting a little, forehead plastered to Harry.

“Holy sh*t.” He whispered, swallowing. “W-what was that for?”

“Your genius… is f*cking sexy as hell.” Harry whispered back. And this time Cisco didn’t find his bluntness funny, because he felt his own shaft twitch at the words.

“How?” He asked, “You’re literally one of the smartest men in the world.” Harry smiled wryly, then both his hands gripped Cisco under the arms, hoisting him. Cisco gasped, not at all expecting that. He knew Harry was strong, he’d felt it for himself more than once. But it was always nice to be reminded. Especially as Harry used his own body and hands to press Cisco into the floor, dragging their groins together.

“I read your personnel file, Ramon. You’ve never done an IQ test. What makes you think you’re not smarter than me?” Harry lowered his face to the side of Cisco’s, nuzzling, breathing him in softly. “What makes you think you’re not one of the smartest men in the world?” Harry’s lips dragged across the slight stubble on Cisco’s cheek, down to the curve of his jaw. Cisco’s eyes closed at the sensation, and an anticipatory moan softly followed when he felt Harry’s hand move down his body, right to his groin. Harry massaged through his sweatpants, easily caressing Cisco’s now very hard shaft. His legs spread instinctively at Harry’s touch. It was incredible just how fast Harry had turned the tables on him, bringing him from zero to the speed of light effortlessly.

“I-I… I..”

“You are.” Harry whispered, voice rough with need. Yet every touch was enticing, almost gentle, damn near teasing. “And I’m going to put that to good use if you allow it.” Harry caressed lower, curling his fingers around Cisco’s balls. “But first…” He sucked softly against Cisco’s throat, tongue swiping at his skin.

“First?” Cisco tucked his somewhat pinned arm down, hand sliding around Harry’s jean clad rear. His other hand gripped Harry’s upper arm, feeling the muscles flex as Harry brought his hand back up, tugging up Cisco’s shirt a little, then slid his hand under the waistband of Cisco’s sweatpants without hesitation. The feel of his fingers gliding along his shaft made him suck in a breath.

“First, I’m going to put the rest of you to good use. If you let me.” Harry breathed out, too, lifting his head. “Only if you let me.” His eyes were damn near begging… for him. For all of him. And as if he could read his mind, Harry brought his mouth down, lips brushing over his own. “Please let me.” He could hear the longing. And it completely undid him in a heartbeat. Cisco’s answer was to kiss him, as full and wanting as Harry had done to him, letting Harry do exactly that…

Chapter 31: “I’ll move again when you answer the question.”

Chapter Text

Harry had stripped them both, opened him up, taken his time and buried his shaft inside of him. Ramon was completely naked and relaxed in Harry’s hold, body melted into the mattress, pillows shoved to the floor, skin warm and thrumming with energy. Cisco’s hair was loose around him now, his eyes were closed, his hands were up above his head, fingers curled in toward his palms but not clenched. Ramon’s left leg was up over Harry’s right shoulder, his other spread wide as he gave in to the thrusting.

Harry was pressed into him, pushing his hoisted leg toward the center of his body with every thrust, holding on to Ramon’s thigh, thumb pressed into the bend of his knee. His other hand was pressed into the mattress, his head was bowed. He kept the rhythm steady, gliding in deep. Not fast, not greedy. He wanted to draw this out, and Cisco seemed to lose himself in the feel of it right from the start.

“How are you s-so good at this?” Ramon mumbled softly, panting a little after. Harry’s lips turned up in a crooked smile, and he rose up slightly higher, pressing his lips into Cisco’s thigh before the next thrust.

“You have… very low standards.” Harry joked lightly, pulling out, pushing back in. f*ck, Ramon was addictive. “I will never understand why you want me.” Ramon’s insides were delightfully warm, gripping him with each thrust, his body pliable and the feel of his skin intoxicating. Harry couldn’t recall ever having known anyone or anything as satisfying. Harry was addicted, and he had no plans for rehabilitation. “I will also… never complain.” Cisco cracked a smile.

“Shut up right now. You’re… oh… sh*t, you’re beyond perfect. Do you have any idea what you do to me?”

“I might have an idea or two, yes.” Harry lowered Ramon’s leg, then lined their torsos up, dragging his hand through Cisco’s hair, making his eyes flutter open. “But tell me anyway, beautiful. What do I do to you?” He asked, rolling his hips, keeping himself sheathed fully, offering stimulation but refusing to thrust just yet. Ramon moaned a little at the feel, then gave him a frustrated look. “I’ll move again when you answer the question.” Harry said, humor and need both very clear. Ramon squinted a little at him, then moaned lightly again when Harry rolled his hips one more time.

“That’s what you do… that… you make me a mess.” Cisco breathed out. Ramon’s hands finally moved, arms coming around Harry, fingers pressing into his flesh. Then his eyes grew heated and serious. “The way you fill me, like you were made to fit, made to hit all the right things. Do you know how difficult it is to keep myself from coming the moment you take me?” He whispered, and Harry swayed his hips in response, Ramon licking his lips at the feel. And Harry couldn’t even comment because he kept talking. sh*t, he kept goddamn talking. And Harry never wanted him to stop.

“Your body, tall and firm and strong. Like you could destroy me, but always put me back together by refusing to.” Harry couldn’t stop himself from pulling out halfway, gliding back in as deep as he could, both of them making soft sounds at the feel. Just hearing Ramon talk like that made his groin quake. “Your mouth… you taste like something forbidden. The way you use your hands is like mercy, to be touched the way you touch me. I can hear your voice in my dreams, the sound of it is safety, and I need it. And your eyes… your goddam eyes, Harry. I’ve seen the oceans, the sky, I’ve seen sapphires. Your eyes are unfair in their blueness, and I want to drown in them. I want to drown in you.” He nearly choked on his last five words. “Let me drown in you.”

Harry couldn’t keep it steady now. He was done being slow. He kissed Ramon with all the impassioned fervor that had just been lit in his chest by Ramon’s descriptions as he thrust much more firmly into Cisco’s ass. Ramon practically sobbed into that kiss, like he was exactly as stimulated by the feel of Harry as he’d said he was. But then Harry pulled away, pulled out, grabbed Cisco by the shoulders and helped him sit. He seemed slightly startled.

“Up, I need you up.” Harry said over his mouth before kissing him again, then getting them both to their knees. Cisco was staring at him wide-eyed when they pulled apart, and Harry guided him to turn around, taking his wrists and moving his hands to the headboard. Ramon didn’t fight it even a little. In fact, he took the hint and grabbed the headboard so tight that his knuckles blanched. Harry grabbed the lube, pouring more down Cisco’s tailbone, making him shudder as Harry slid his fingers into the slickness of it, dragging it down to his hole, smoothing some inside. And then Harry pressed himself into him, grabbing the headboard from behind him, hands to either side of his, pushing straight to the hilt with one very hard, body shaking thrust. Ramon cried out instantly, head lolling down.

“Oh, f*ck, oh please! That… please do that.” He begged, and Harry was not going to ignore him. He gave Cisco what he wanted. He gave himself what he wanted. He thrust into Ramon repeatedly, over and over, as hard and fast as he dared, making the bed quake, making Cisco’s arms tremble, making him repeatedly huff out small sobs. Harry pressed his head into Ramon’s shoulder, feeling his body straining, drowning as much in the feel of the pleasure of Cisco’s body as Ramon had professed he’d wanted to drown in him. f*ck, he hoped Cisco felt like he was drowning, too. As if to prove that he was, Ramon made a ragged, throaty sound, and Harry knew he was coming. He felt his insides clench around Harry’s shaft as he pulsed onto the bed.

“f*ck, Ramon,” He grit out, driving himself forward, practically sinking to the deepest, darkest abyss he’d ever known, and happy for it as the crushing sensation in his groin finally let him go. He came with a heady moan of his own, hips tucked up against Ramon’s ass, teeth grit tight and headboard creaking beneath their hands. The high was as close to heaven as Harry thought he was ever going to get. They were both breathing hard, hearts pounding. Cisco was shaking lightly, and Harry’s own muscles were protesting. And he swallowed, licking his lips as he lifted his head, not quite ready to open his eyes yet.

He let go of the headboard without looking, sliding his hands over Cisco’s arms and urging him to do the same. Then both men sat back at the same time, till Harry was sitting on his own feet and Ramon was settled in his lap, head flopped back onto Harry’s shoulder. Harry had his arms completely wrapped around Cisco’s chest, holding him in place. Ramon held onto his arms. And they spent the next several minutes just sitting there, letting themselves come down, letting the ocean they’d drowned in deposit them back on the shore. Eventually, they were left with the sound of the rain outside. And Ramon took a deep, slow breath, expelling it very carefully.

“You said you were going to put my supposed genius to good use. What did you mean?” Cisco asked, voice content. Harry smiled, kissing the side of Ramon’s face lightly.

“I want to reassign you.” He said easily. And Cisco blinked his eyes open. He was quiet again, for several moments, like he was thinking hard on something.

“Where?”

“The base team.” Harry replied. “I’m putting you in charge of overseeing the last of the accelerator upgrades and the running of the accelerator after completion.”

“Harry…” Cisco sounded shocked, and he slipped out of Harry’s lap, turning to look at him. He seemed astounded, and Harry knew why. He reached out, dragging his fingers into Ramon’s hair.

“It’s not preferential treatment. It’s this.” He pulled his hand away, then poked him in the forehead lightly before dropping his hand to his lap. Cisco blinked at him, looking down at his hand. “Your genius isn’t 'supposed.' It’s reality. I thought so seven years ago when I approved your hire and the lab you wanted. I told HR to offer you something more, just like I did with Snow and Allen, but you wouldn’t take it.” Ramon looked back up, slightly subdued.

“I… I wanted to really earn my place.”

“I figured that out. So I instructed your supervisors to give you projects others couldn’t do. And you always excelled. Your formulas and programs, devices and inventions, we utilized all of it. When you saw what good you were doing, you jumped at the challenge of moving up after that. But then three years ago, you just… stopped. You kept working hard, and kept excelling above others, but refused to move from your department. I know why now.” Cisco relaxed back, stretching a leg out, one hand in the mattress, the other reaching out and sliding over Harry’s calf, eyes almost mournful. “You don’t need to be stuck in place anymore, beautiful. You’ve more than earned this. Look at what you just did.” Ramon’s eyes softened and he smirked.

“You mean make you extremely horny?” Cisco asked sarcastically, trying to hide his actual thoughts. And Harry chuckled.

“Yes, make me extremely horny… by solving a complex problem in moments. A problem, I might add, no one else has entirely understood or could have caught on to in the short amount of time you did.” Harry explained, and Ramon looked down again. “You see things in a way that I’ve only witnessed in a handful of people.”

“You would have figured it out.” Cisco said softly, looking back up.

“Eventually, maybe. But I’m running a multinational business that is far more involved than just the accelerator. I can’t be there all the time.” He sighed a little. “It’s the most important project I’ve ever done, I spent my life making it a reality. But I’m more hands off now, I have to be. I have no choice. So assigning people I can trust, people who are competent, people who are… genius…” he reached forward and gripped the back of Ramon’s head, tugging him close. “That’s how I know the accelerator will keep doing what it’s meant to do.” He smiled warmly at him. “Help people.” Cisco’s sigh was shaken.

“I am so in love with you.” Ramon whispered, eyes a little wet. “How am I supposed to say no to you?”

“You can say no, and I’ll respect that.” Harry nodded, feeling his own eyes grow slightly wet. “But I hope you won’t. I meant what I said, beautiful. You’ve more than earned your place. I want this promotion for you. No strings attached. You got there all on your own and would’ve had it a long time ago if life hadn’t pulled the rug out from under you.”

“People will think… they’ll think…”

“That I’m giving you preferential treatment.” Harry shook his head. “Yes, they might. But I will show them every achievement, every invention, every breakthrough, and every life your work has saved. And then they can shove their unwarranted opinions up their asses.” Cisco laughed despite himself, voice a little tight, and he teetered forward, pressing his head to Harry’s. “If it makes you feel any better, I am asking as your boss, and not your fiancé.”

“And if you were asking as my fiancé?” Ramon gently asked.

“I’d be begging, not asking.” Harry moved into Cisco, pulling him in close, laying them both down face to face. Ramon tangled his legs with his, settling straight into his arms. “I know how it sounds, but besides Jesse and now you, the accelerator is my life. It helped me build this company, and helped me make a difference in a world we both know is unforgiving. S.T.A.R. Labs is my legacy, but the accelerator is my dream. I’m trusting you with it and giving it to you at the same time. It’s as much yours as it is mine now. So, this is me begging you, as my future husband, help me keep it alive by taking the lead on the base team.” Ramon trembled a breath, then his face crumpled for a moment, tears rolling out of the corners of his eyes. But he sucked in another breath and attempted to compose himself, hand on Harry’s face, thumb moving.

“Both my boss and my fiancé are impossible to argue with.” He said thickly, “So I won’t.”

“Does that mean… you’re going to take it?” Harry asked dubiously, eyes darting over his. Ramon’s smile was emotional and excited all at once.

“Yeah, I’ll take it.” Cisco nodded. Harry grinned and surged forward, kissing him immediately. Ramon laughed warmly before kissing him back. Then Harry rolled away from him, getting up and grabbing his jeans off the floor. “Hey, what’re you doing?” Ramon asked curiously, propping himself up. Harry pulled them on.

“I’m making you dinner.” Harry said, turning to look at him. “To celebrate.”

“Wait… you’re cooking?”

“I said I’m terrible at remembering to eat, not that I’m bad at cooking.” Harry zipped and buttoned the jeans, “And I will have you know, I make kickass steak.” He walked back over to the bed, leaned over him with his hands in the mattress. “I want to celebrate you. And tomorrow, we’ll sleep in, go into work late. And then I want to-" he looked down at Cisco’s left hand, “Buy you a ring.” He looked back up, watching Ramon’s expression become stunned again. “I want the world to know what the future holds for Cisco Ramon and Harrison Wells.” Ramon’s eyes were moving fast, his hand coming up, fingers tentatively moving over Harry’s cheek, beneath his eye, then feather soft over his lips.

“Shouldn’t I be the one buying you a ring, considering I’m the one who proposed to you?” He asked quietly, then smiled slow and almost sultry. sh*t, he was so damn beautiful. Harry smiled back.

“I might be convinced to let you, if you can figure out my taste in jewelry.” He winked. Cisco dropped his hand.

“That’s not fair, you don’t have any jewelry. Except your watch. And that’s black.” He said flatly, and Harry chuckled, standing up straight.

“You don’t have any, either.” He reminded, and Cisco tilted his head a little before nodding in agreement. “I’ll make a deal with you, Ramon. If you figure out what I like first, you can buy me a ring. If I figure out what you like first, I’m buying you one.” He held his hand out, and Cisco twisted his lips a little to the side before taking it and letting Harry hoist him up.

“Deal.” He said, then kissed him to seal it.

Fifteen minutes later, they were cleaned up and in the kitchen. Cisco was cutting potatoes while Harry worked on the steak, and they were talking about how they would transition him from his lab to the base team. There was a very real excitement laced in all of Ramon’s words, and hope in his auburn-specked brown eyes. Harry stopped to watch him, soaking in the sight of his hair back in a ponytail and the ever-present smile on his face. Harry knew immediately that he could do this forever. Making love, making dinner, making Ramon smile. And he suddenly had a very real feeling that this was exactly how it was supposed to be…

Chapter 32: “I’m not my father.”

Chapter Text

Cisco sat down directly in front of Barry, the rolling chair he’d plopped into squeaking loudly. Both of Barry’s brows went up as he straightened, staring at him before he carefully moved the illuminated magnifying glass out of the way. The table between them was cluttered. It looked like he was working on a circuit board.

“Aren’t you supposed to be camping out at Harry’s?” He asked, though Cisco could see right away that Barry was happy to see him.

“It turns out that both Harry and I are workaholics. And working remotely just doesn’t give the right kind of fix.” He lazily began swaying the chair side to side, watching one of his two best friends in the whole world shake his head and relax into his own chair.

“Got in late, though.” He looked past Cisco’s head to the clock on the wall. “How’d you convince him to come in at twelve?”

“Oh, we’ve been here since ten. And that was all his idea. I think I’ve taught him the benefits of sleeping in. I’m a wonderful influence.” He wiggled his brows a little and Barry huffed a small laugh. “Also, very seriously,” Cisco pointed right at him, “Do not tell Caitlin we’re here. You know she’ll march right out of that hospital if she finds out.”

“You know I can’t lie to her. If she doesn’t find out from me, she will absolutely find out from Iris.”

“How? Iris isn’t even here?”

“I tell Iris everything. And you can’t tell me you haven’t been doing the same with Harry.” Barry countered, and he lifted his chin a little.

“That’s fair.” He nodded, pressing his lips together for a moment. “Still, at least wait until Caitlin gets out of the hospital first. By then, the statute of limitations will have run out on my crimes.” Barry chuckled, but then he looked Cisco over quietly.

“What did Joe have to say about you being here?”

“He, uh… didn’t say anything.” He squinted a little. “We sorta left without telling him. The patrol wasn’t very happy about that. They tailed us the whole way into the city. And they gave us a hell of an earful when we stopped at City Center. But to be fair, it’s not like whoever threatened us is going to jump out in a public setting and yell ‘hold still while I murder you!’” Cisco mimed a stabbing motion. “Besides, work is the safest place there is.” Barry gave him a disapproving look, and Cisco sighed seriously. “Barry, man, I love that everyone is so worried about me, but I can’t do this again.”

“Do what?” Barry leaned forward, crossing his arms on the tabletop. Cisco mimicked him.

“Give in to the fear.” He replied softly, brows lightly furrowed. “After I got out of the hospital… I was afraid all the time. It didn’t matter that Brian was dead. My life didn’t feel like my own anymore. You remember how… defeated I was. I don’t want to have to rebuild my life again. In fact, I want to make sure I never have to. I want to do my work. And I want to be with Harry. I’m not going to let Brian or some copycat-Brian destroy everything again. Not now that I’m finally-“ He stopped for a second, then breathed quickly, realizing the full weight of what he was about to say. “I’m finally happy, man.”

“I know you are.” Barry smiled. “We all do. It’s pretty obvious.” He motioned a finger in a circle in Cisco’s direction. “It’s written all over your-“ Barry suddenly sat up straight, hand freezing mid motion. “What is on your finger?!” Barry demanded very loudly. Cisco’s brows shot up, and he sat back instantly. There was no one else around in Barry’s workroom, but holy crap was that loud.

“Dude.” Cisco deadpanned, but Barry didn’t look remotely apologetic. He stood up and walked around the table, grabbing Cisco’s chair and turning it, reaching down and grabbing his hand, tugging it up.

“You absolutely cannot ‘dude’ me right now.” Barry said, eyes a little wide as he looked over the white gold band on his finger, the thick metal glistening a little, a series of three small black diamonds sitting in the middle and sparkling in the lab lights. “I’m ‘duding’ you right now. Because dude.” Cisco felt heat rising to his cheeks, and he gently pulled his hand away, flexing his fingers a little.

The feel of the ring was still new. He never wore jewelry. So it was a little strange how fast he was getting used to it. Or at least physically. Emotionally, he had to fight the urge to grin like the Cheshire Cat every time he looked at it or thought about it. Now was no different. But he could also admit that he was very, very nervous. Because Barry was the brother he’d chosen for himself, and he’d gone over and over in his head how to tell him about this. He thought he’d been prepared, but now that he was there, staring him down, he had no idea what to say.

“When did this happen?” Barry demanded as he put his hands on his hips, and Cisco smoothed both hands down his own thighs.

“Uh, yesterday. I mean, the whole ‘will you marry me’ thing happened yesterday.” He said, “The ring happened this morning, before we got to work.” Barry very slowly nodded, then turned his body so his rear was on the table. He crossed his arms quietly, thoughts running marathons in his gaze.

“Harry asked you to-“

“Nope, no. That was me.” He said quickly, “I asked him.”

“Wow.” Barry’s brows rose, and then he looked down at the floor. “And he said yes.”

“I know what you’re thinking, Barry.” Cisco scooted forward a little.

“Yeah, I’m not sure ya do.” Barry actually sounded a little upset. “I mean, I knew you two were a good match the moment we convinced you to ask him out. But it’s only been a week.” He furrowed his brows. “With everything that’s going on, are you sure you’re not just jumping the gun?” Barry looked right at him. “Harry’s a good man. And he’s good for you, he is. But you barely know each other. And now Brian Reed might be alive and coming after you. That’s a lot of change, with one heck of an emotional tornado landing down right in the middle of it. Man, I’m worried that-“

“Three years.” Cisco interrupted firmly and Barry’s brows furrowed.

“What?”

“Three years. That’s how long I’ve been holding on to Harry. And how long he’s been holding on to me.” He said easily, and Barry’s confusion was nearly palpable. “When I was dying on my kitchen floor, it was Harry’s picture on that magazine article that I remember seeing before the lights went out. And that same day, when the generators blew and Harry almost bled out in the pipeline, my name on the commemoration plaque across from him was the last thing he saw.” He stood up and moved directly in front of Barry. “We were floating past each other constantly from that point on. There was always something getting in the way, some reason why we never took the opportunity to just approach each other. That’s why I didn’t really fight it when you pushed me to ask him out. And why he said yes after not having dated anyone in years.”

Cisco continued to tell him everything. Every last important detail that led up to this moment, watching as the man he thought of as a brother processed it all quietly. He knew what he was asking him to accept, the impossibility of it, the overly romantic tale of fate and true love like it was some sort of Disney movie. But he also knew Barry and Caitlin were the most important people in Cisco’s life. If he didn’t accept this, he wasn’t sure what he would do.

“It’s fast, Barry. I know that. But it’s right. We’ve been trapped in each other’s atmosphere for years. We’ve just finally figured out how to collide. We both want this, and we know what we’re doing. And I-“ But he didn’t get to finish his sentence because Barry very quickly reached forward, grabbed Cisco’s ‘Science is Not a Liberal Conspiracy’ t-shirt, and pulled him straight into where he was sitting, till Barry’s arms were around him and his head was sideways on Cisco’s chest. “Woah, okay.” He hugged Barry back, blinking in confusion. “Um… if it makes you feel any better, Harry wouldn’t go to Vegas. He wants to wait a year, to plan it right.”

“I am seriously so invested.” Barry said excitedly, “And I better be your best man. And Caitlin better be the best woman. Cause that’s a thing.” Cisco chuckled. “Oh, no.” Barry lifted his head and looked up at him without pulling back. “Caitlin is going to murder you both, but then she’s going to be happy, too.” He grinned up at Cisco.

“Happy about what?” Jesse asked, walking in with a half-eaten apple. She paused at the sight of them, then tilted her head. “I thought Barry was straight.”

“He is.” Cisco nodded at her.

“Hey, bros can hug.” Barry defended, then snuggled back into Cisco for emphasis.

“Awe, that’s cute.” She grinned, then came right over and hugged them both, making them all chuckle. “What are you doing here?” She asked pointedly, stepping back the same time Cisco did. Barry stood up away from the table and stood side by side with Cisco. Jesse narrowed her gaze on him. “Dad’s here, too, isn’t he.” She wasn’t asking. “You both are going to be in so much trouble when the others find out.” She poked Cisco right in the chest.

“Hey, now. We’re both grown ass men, and pretty please don’t tell the others.” He nodded vehemently. Jesse laughed lightly, her phone going off in her pocket. She switched her apple to the other hand, pulling the phone out of her jeans.

“It’s security.” She made a confused face, then answered. “This is Jesse.” Her eyes moved from Cisco to Barry and back, “Oh my god, is he okay? Where is he?!” She demanded, looking instantly scared. “We’ll be right down.” She hung up without looking, setting the apple down. “Somebody attacked Dad in the gym.” She turned without waiting or saying another word. Barry and Cisco glanced at each other, then hurried after her as fast their feet could take them.

* * *

Harry liked to run.

He'd started when he was in college. He’d learned when he was a child that moving and thinking kept his brain from spiraling, but as he got older, he’d started needing more than simple steady work. Which meant he’d eventually figured out running and thinking at the same time made his brain work seamlessly. Now it was habit. Or maybe a hobby. And he made a point to run at least three times a week. Though, this past week he’d had a much better physical outlet.

He smiled to himself as he kept a steady pace on the treadmill in the executive gym. He was by himself now, the two women from the customer service department had cleared out nearly the moment he’d walked in. He was used to that. It was a small gym, and nine times out of ten, most people didn’t want to share the space with him. He figured that had to do with the perception, the stories that would probably follow him around no matter what. Though he had a feeling those stories were about to change.

He'd gotten more than a few unfamiliar looks since they’d arrived that morning. Not bad, not exactly. Simply not what he was used to. These looks had curiosity behind them, smiles, even stolen glances. He felt a bit like he was being sized up for something, but he had no idea what. He didn’t like that feeling very much. But he was used to being stared at and it still didn’t mean anything to him. Attention wasn’t something he strove for.

There were far more important things to put his energy into.

It would take about a month to get Cisco fully transitioned into his new position. Ramon wanted to finish up the preliminary work on the quantum sphere while shadowing the base team before he switched over completely. He knew there was bound to be some backlash, some gossip and unhappy overachievers. But like he’d told Ramon, none of that mattered. He had all the proof he needed to show that Cisco deserved this more than anyone else. No one needed to know the hell Ramon had been through. That part of his life no longer had power over the future. And the future was full of every good possibility now, no matter what ghosts from the past had to say about it. That didn't mean they could avoid the past, though. Harry had completely forgotten to call Tess. Which wasn't something he did. He kept his word about things, even if he didn't necessarily want to. But with everything that was happening, Harry could admit that worrying about Tess was the farthest thing from his mind. He wanted to worry only about the good things, and where the future lead with Ramon.

When they’d stopped at Central City Jewelers to look at rings that morning, it had been effortless to stand there and bicker with him. It had turned into a bit of a competition, every moment suffused with the need to find the right ring first. When Harry saw the white gold band with the small black diamonds, he’d known instantly. But he’d let it play out a little longer, just to see Ramon’s enthusiasm. He was always beautiful, but he was damn near angelic looking when he was enthusiastic. He smiled again at that thought, reaching out and tapping the slow/stop button on the treadmill. The speed began to list off, and he slowed his steps, hopping off and reaching for his water bottle. But he stopped halfway the second he saw who was standing in the doorway.

“What are you doing here?” He straightened without grabbing his water bottle, he stepped a little further into the room, feeling the air from the air conditioner flow over his sweat dabbled skin. His arms were bare in the brown sleeveless t-shirt he wore. He put his hands on his hips, watching as Benson stepped into the room.

“I just spent three hours in an exit interview.” He said roughly. In fact, all of him looked a bit rough. He had his white shirt untucked and the top two buttons undone, his black tie so loose that it was nearly completely untied. He had his suit jacket clutched in his hand and he tossed it away, revealing a large wrench. “They’re letting me… grab my things and say goodbye to some people. Your receptionist said you were here.” Harry furrowed his brows a little, eyes darting to the door as Benson stepped in and closed it.

“What did you do?” He demanded, eyes moving directly to the bright red spots on Benson’s left sleeve. There wasn’t a lot of it, but very clearly blood. And his right knuckles looked raw. Probably from hitting something. “Where’s your security detail?” Benson never would have been allowed to wander around without one. Harry dropped his hands and stepped back, putting the treadmill between himself and Benson. “You don’t want to do this.”

“I didn’t want to get fired, either. But, here we are.” He motioned out wide. “Ya know, I used to idolize you.” He started to pace forward. “You’re the trifecta, the man everyone worth their salt should strive to be. One of the most successful businessmen in the world,” He held up a finger, “The man who changed the face of science for the world,” He held up another, “And one of the richest men in the world.” He held up a third, then dropped his hand. “That brings up a good point. Why do you live the way you do? You could have the biggest damn mansion in existence. You could have live-in staff and f*cking Ferraris. You could have fresh puss* or dick for every day of the week.” Harry clenched his jaw at the crassness, and Benson stopped near one of the exercise bikes, leaning an arm on it, the wrench hanging from his hand.

“I’m not my father.” Harry said flatly. “What’s your excuse?” Benson laughed ruefully.

“Oh, no.” He motioned the wrench at him. “You don’t get to turn this around on me.”

“You’re the one who wants to make money off the suffering of others.” Harry said roughly. “You can’t really believe this,” he motioned at him, “Is going to change anything. You’re not that stupid.”

“God, you’re so f*cking idealistic. Anyone ever tell you that?” He sighed.

“Yes.” Harry needed to get Benson to stand down. He wasn’t sure exactly what he’d done to his security escort, but it couldn’t have been good judging by the blood on his shirt and the heavy piece of metal in his hand. He’d dealt with disgruntled employees before, and it wouldn’t be the first time someone had wanted to hurt him. But the fact that Benson had already hurt someone else didn’t mean anything good.

“I have no idea how you got this far riding that delusion.”

“By not compromising my ideals.” He said clearly, and Benson shook his head.

“Well… your ideals ruined my life.” Benson stepped away from the bike, pushing it over completely, the machine crashing to its side loudly. And before Harry could react beyond stepping aside again, Benson lunged, wrench swinging straight for Harry’s head…

Chapter 33: “Ooh, Cisco one, Harry zero.”

Chapter Text

Cisco wasn’t sure what they’d find when they got there. His mind was reeling with the possibilities. Was it Brian? It couldn’t be. There was no way he’d get past the incredible amount of security a non-employee would need to get that far. Was it what Joe had said, that someone had it out for Harry? Had they actually found a way to get to him? And how bad was this?! The idea of Harry being hurt or worse made his insides tie into about a million knots. It felt like the roller coaster wouldn’t end. Couldn’t he and Harry just be happy? Isn’t that what the universe wanted? Then why keep attacking them like this?!

On the way, they’d heard one of the security guards was knocked unconscious by Benson, which was equal parts wild and worrisome, and a little bit of a relief. It meant it wasn’t Brian. Which was a good thing. But it was also just as bad, because Cisco had seen how angry the man was. And how the hell did Benson even get access to Harry? Cisco knew when someone was fired, they didn’t just get a free hall pass on their way out the door.

Patrols had been all over the building looking for him after they’d found the guard, but then someone called in a report that he’d attacked Harry. And now the hallway leading to the executive gym was completely clogged with employees and security. Barry, Cisco, and Jesse had to push their way through, nearly shoving some people aside. But they couldn’t get the rest of the way through. Security had the hall cordoned off, and the two officers that had been following them around all morning were standing talking to Harry’s receptionist.

“Let us through, Donnie.” Jesse told the military cut, six foot four Director of Security who had stopped them along with everyone else. Donald Ferrier was as tough as he looked, and very far from a pushover. But Jesse was having none of that. Not now.

“Miss Wells-“

“Do not ‘Miss Wells’ me, I’m having lunch with your wife on Friday.” She pointed right at him and he frowned, “Now let us through, or she’s gonna know you’ve been playing poker in the Security Office with the guys from biotech. You know how she feels about that.” Jesse put her hands on her hips and stared him down, until finally his eyes darted over her head and he sighed, stepping aside. She grabbed Cisco’s hand, who in turn grabbed Barry’s arm, and they all headed into the hall. And when they finally made it to the gym, dodging past a cop, they all stopped in place.

It was an absolute mess.

Equipment was knocked over, a shelf for towels was bent inward and the towels strewn about, and the window across the room was shattered like something heavy had been thrown at it, causing a breeze to move in and out of the room. Benson was on the floor, out cold, as a paramedic examined him. He looked completely disheveled, sporting a bloody lip, swollen eyes, and bloody nose. A cop stood over Benson, just in front of a stretcher, watching warily. And at the far wall, Harry sat half hunched over in a metal folding chair, one of the gym towels held to his left brow as another paramedic examined his back. Joe was sitting near him, a notebook in hand, and despite Harry’s closed eyes, they were talking back and forth about something. How were there so many people there already? When did this happen? How did Joe even know? Why did it take so long for anyone to even tell them?

“Dad!” Jesse blurted, darting over a tumbled pile of weights. Harry looked up, eyes tense and lips tight. “Oh my god…” She said, stopping right in front of him. Harry very stiffly straightened, shaking his head immediately as she crouched in front of him. Cisco and Barry went directly to them.

“Jesus, Harry…” Cisco breathed out, stopping at his side and freezing in place when he saw his back. It was red and angry all around his spine, the scar looking slightly purple already.

“What? What is it?” Jesse stood back up and leaned over him.

“I’m fine.” He said to them both, but Jesse looked about ready to punch him herself for saying the word ‘fine.’

“You’re not fine, Dad. Your back…” She said sternly, and he dropped the towel from his forehead, making her look at his brow. There was a huge gash, and it looked like it had bled profusely. “You’re going to need stitches.” She took the towel from him and tried to press it back into the wound. He winced before pushing her hand away, though gently.

“I’d say of the two of us,” he motioned his free hand to Benson, “I got the better deal.” Jesse didn’t even look at the unconscious man. Instead, she looked at Joe.

“When did this happen? Why didn’t anyone call us?” She motioned to herself, and then to Barry and Cisco who were now standing side by side.

“Enough, Jesse.” Harry reached out and grabbed her hand. “I told them not to call you.” Her eyes snapped back to him and he let her go with a deep sigh. She crossed her arms, nearly glaring at him. “Don’t. This?” he motioned to Benson, “Is over. It’s done.”

“Not quite.” Joe spoke up, relaxing back in his own chair. “We still need to talk about-“

“I told you what happened, Detective. He came in all pissed off because he lost his job, swung a wrench, flung it out the window when I dodged, and then he tackled me into the weight rack.” He said roughly. “I hit him with one of the weights, then hit him with my fists until he stopped moving. End of story. You can check the security feed if you don’t believe me.” He pointed to the camera in the corner of the room. “Now let me go.” Slowly, Joe smirked. Though Cisco had a feeling it wasn’t out of amusem*nt.

“I know there’s a reason you’re not the unconscious one right now. And trust me, I’m actually glad about that.” He said.

“Awe, Detective, I didn’t know you cared.” Harry said almost humorously. Joe chuckled.

“Yes, you did. Now, knowing everything else that is happening right now,” he pointed from Harry to Cisco, then dropped his hand, “Tell me what you two are even doing here.” Joe said sternly.

“That was my call.” Cisco said, turning slightly to look at him before crouching and holding on to Harry’s knee. Harry’s sharp gaze wandered over him quietly. Joe’s brows went up a little. “This is my life, Joe. I’m not giving up any more time. Brian or not, I won’t be looking over my shoulder.”

“This was a disgruntled former employee, not a serial killer.” Harry added, lifting his hand to the back of Cisco’s shoulder. “Terrible timing, but nothing I haven’t dealt with before.”

“Wait, how many times have you been attacked?” Cisco asked, brows lifting as he looked back at Harry.

“Not including death threats in the mail or hysterical yelling on someone’s way out the door, this makes number three in the past year.” Jesse grumped. “And from the looks of it, way more violent than normal.”

“Jesse, I promise you,” He smoothed his hand over her side, “I’m okay, sweetheart.”

“He could’ve killed you.” Jesse said so quietly that they barely heard it. Harry didn’t seem to know how to respond to that.

“Detective,” The female paramedic spoke up, “Sorry to interrupt, but I need to get him downstairs.”

“That’s not necessary.” Harry huffed, attempting to straighten. The pain that flourished on his features spoke myriads. They watched as the paramedic gave Harry a knowing look, reaching up with gauze and tape to cover the gash.

“Says the man who is currently slightly concussed.” After she settled the gauze in place, she stood, moving around him to look at his back one more time, lifting his shirt again. And though her eyes spoke concern, her face stayed completely composed. “This is an old injury… surgery scars?”

“Dad was nearly impaled three years ago. It really messed up his back.” Jesse answered for him, and Harry looked at her sourly. She actually stuck her tongue out at him.

“Are you feeling any tingling in your limbs? Any shooting pain?” The paramedic asked, tentatively inspecting Harry’s scar. When she touched the center of it, Harry instantly hung his head as he made a low sound.

“Not unless you touch the damn thing.” Harry finally griped.

“Doctor Wells, please answer the questions.” She asked easily. And Harry looked over at Joe who shrugged, watching everything quietly.

“No tingling. Plenty of pain. But it’s not shooting. Yet.”

“That’s good.” She replied, “But the bruising is concerning. It’s already fairly prominent. You said you were thrown into the weight rack?” Harry nodded absently. “Doctors will probably want to do some scans, take some x-rays. It could simply be inflamed scar tissue, some serious bruising to go with it. But you shouldn’t want to take any chances.”

“I don’t have time for this.” Harry began, but Cisco tightened his hand on Harry’s knee, drawing his attention.

“You’re gonna make time, Harry.” He said right before standing and planting his hands onto his hips as he looked down at him. Harry’s expression wasn’t one Cisco had seen before, but he didn’t really care. “You’re no good to anyone if you can’t walk. You get that, right? And don’t you dare say I’m overreacting or that you’ll be fine, because I swear I will knock you out and drag you to the hospital myself.” The room became very quiet almost immediately. Even the paramedic was watching Cisco with his brows up. The muscles in Harry’s jaw worked a little, then he sighed through his nostrils, stiffly getting to his feet, one hand on the wall behind him. Cisco reached out and grabbed his waist, steadying him.

“Fine.” Harry finally relented.

“Ooh, Cisco one, Harry zero.” Barry said, and then had the grace to look innocent when everyone looked at him. The radio on the officer’s belt went off, someone talking.

“Second RA unit’s here.” The officer said. Joe nodded and stood up, sighing as he flipped his notebook closed.

“You’re going to the hospital.” He pointed at Harry, “You don’t get to protest, you’re outvoted.”

“My health is not a democratic decision.” Harry said.

“It is today.” Joe patted him on the shoulder, “And when the doctors are done poking and prodding you, we three are going to have a conversation about making good choices.”

“Ramon, grab a weight and knock me out.” Harry said flatly and looked entirely unamused, but Cisco couldn’t help but smile a little.

“Joke all you want, but you know you two should’ve stayed put until I gave you an update.”

“Wait, wait,” Barry spoke up again. “You have an update?” He gave Joe a confused look, and Joe looked hesitant, glancing at the paramedic.

“Clear the room.” Joe spoke up loud enough to be heard by everyone. “Get him on the gurney,” He pointed to Benson, “You can come back for Wells after.” He told the paramedics. “Now.” He ordered, though not harshly. It took a few minutes, but eventually everyone was gone except for a cop outside the door, leaving Harry, Cisco, Barry, Jesse, and Joe standing alone in the room.

“I just heard from the crime lab in St. Louis. I was on my way here when all this happened.” Joe said, slipping his hands into his pockets. “DNA was found under the fingernails of the last victim. It took time to get the results because their crime lab was backed up.” He looked right at Cisco, then. And he felt Harry’s hand slide up his back. “It belongs to Brian Reed.” Instantly, Barry reached out and gripped Cisco’s arm. Harry’s hand slid down and hooked into the belt loops of his pants. Cisco dropped his arms, and he closed his eyes.

“That brought into question the witness statement given by the officer who identified Reed’s body in the crash. He’s missing. A unit was sent to his apartment, found it trashed.” Cisco clung to Harry’s hip, needing to feel something solid beneath his hand. He could suddenly hear everything. The wind outside and the rustle of Joe’s jacket, the murmuring of the crowd in the hallway and the buzz of the cop’s radio. He could feel everything, too. The coolness in the air and the heat of Harry’s skin, the steadiness of Barry’s hand and the strange electric pulsing in his own limbs. “I’m officially putting you under protective custody.”

“What?” Cisco’s eyes snapped open, the shock in his senses dying down subtly at the absurdity of what Joe had just said, “No, no way.”

“Cisco…” Barry urged gently, but Cisco shook his head.

“I just told you, both of you,” he looked from Joe to Barry, “I’m not doing this again. It’s my life, not his. I’m not letting him ruin it again.”

“That’s the point.” Joe stepped forward, “To keep him from ruining your life. Or taking it.”

“You don’t get it.” Cisco said a little loudly, then he pulled himself away from all three of them, wandering toward the broken windows, running both hands through his hair. “He didn’t have to kill me last time to-to-“ He clenched his jaws, then turned quickly to look at them, “Take my life. He stole years from me. Years!” He threw up a hand in their direction. Harry took a stiff step, almost instinctively drawn to Cisco. Barry reached out to steady him. Cisco continued.

“Three years of dumbing myself down and hating my own shadow, of believing I didn’t deserve better.” Then he motioned to Harry. “Until you. Until now. I’m not letting him do that to me again. I can’t.” He choked out the last word. And Harry stepped away from the wall, arm draped over Barry’s shoulders. He looked like he was in so much pain, but his eyes were blue comets of… anger.

“None of us will let that happen, Ramon.” Harry said firmly. “I won’t.” Cisco’s eyes roamed over Harry’s disheveled form. He saw the bruising and light gashes on the knuckles of his left hand. He saw the blood peeking through the bandage over his brow. He looked around and saw the mess the room was in. All proof of how hard Harry had fought… and he was nodding before he could stop himself.

“I know you won’t.” Cisco responded very quietly, holding Harry’s brilliant sapphire stare. Harry nodded once.

“It’s one to one now, right?” Barry whispered loudly to Jesse. She chuckled.

“Oh yeah, they’re even now.” She commented. And both Harry and Cisco rolled their eyes, which only made Barry grin and nudge Jesse. Cisco chuckled despite himself and he moved back to Harry, switching places with Barry.

“Joe, I… I know you’re just trying to help. But I’m not going into protective custody. You can post as many cops as you want. The rest we’re going to handle our way.” He said, then looked up at Harry. “Starting with Harry going to the hospital. And me going with him.”

He couldn’t explain Harry’s expression, but his eyes said everything for him.

Neither one of them was going to give Brian Reed any power.

Chapter 34: “I will have you know, I make a mean bowl of cereal.”

Chapter Text

They’d spent the rest of the day and nearly half the night in the hospital before he annoyed the doctors enough to let him go home.

The doctors did their tests and scans and poking and prodding. Harry’s back was beat to hell, but nothing was broken. The scar tissue was severely inflamed. And the bruising had spread to a nearly basketball sized area. It could have been a lot worse. And Harry wasn’t stupid enough to think he wasn’t in for a serious amount of discomfort in the days ahead. He already had bad days with his back as it was. There was no way this wouldn’t be hell. Still, it was a bit of a surprise when he woke from a sound sleep in near agony at three in the morning.

His whole body jarred awake, and he was gasping, turning stiffly toward the edge of the bed with a swallowed down growl. It had been a long time since his back had hurt like this. Not since those first few weeks out of the hospital after the explosion. Some nights he’d end up on the floor, completely incapacitated and unable to function. Jesse had been furious when she’d finally found out he’d suffered through it alone. But he hadn’t wanted her to have to take care of him. She told him he was too stubborn for his own good.

Currently, his whole back felt like it was on fire, and a bone deep throb had spread into his hips, down into his thighs. He squeezed his eyes shut, turning his face away from the mattress, not even caring where his pillow had gone. His hand reached out and gripped the nightstand as muscle spasms raged through his back. It was hard to breathe, like he was being squeezed in a vice, and he tried so very hard to be quiet about it. He didn’t want to wake Ramon, who had stayed by his side in the hospital and been perfect through all of it. Harry knew he wasn’t a good patient. He was short tempered and uncomfortable in hospitals now. And he was sure he could give anyone’s patience a run for their money. But Ramon never wavered.

He was secretly very grateful about that.

Something in Harry’s brain told him that this would be the thing that made Cisco walk away. Harry was an asshole when he was in pain. And Jesse was right about his stubbornness. But it was a little more than that. His back was never going to be one hundred percent. No amount of surgeries or therapy or medication regimens would undo the damage to his nerves. Which meant at least two or three times a month, Harry had very, very bad days. The kind where he could barely function as a human, the kind that sometimes made him wish he couldn’t feel anything at all ever again. Ramon had no idea what he was getting into with that. And Harry had wanted to explain it to him at the hospital. He just… couldn’t get the words out.

Now, it was the farthest thing from his mind. He sucked in a breath as he yanked the covers off. He couldn’t stay in this position, it was too much. And he forced himself up to a sitting position, hand still clinging to the hard wood of the nightstand.

f*ck. He tried so, so hard to be quiet. But a light pained sound bubbled up out of his throat. He didn’t hear Ramon stir, however. Good. He didn’t want him to see him like this. The problem was, however, he didn’t know what to do from there. He never did when this happened. It was always a battle of wills. He had no choice but to ride out the pain in whatever moderately functional position he’d find himself in. When he’d first healed up, his physicians and therapists had tried to convince him to take strong meds. The kind that were labeled as controlled substances. But he’d promptly told them all where to shove their prescriptions. He wasn’t going to be dependent on that sh*t. He couldn’t. Because he knew all too well what that sort of dependency did to a person.

Still… sometimes he wondered what it would feel like to have something slice through the pain, fast and easy. Now was no different, considering he was pretty much stuck in this sitting position. He couldn’t lay down anymore, that was too much. And he knew if he stood, he’d end up in a heap on the floor, which was not ideal. So the only thing he could do was sit there, squeezing the mattress and the nightstand, head hung as he desperately tried to breathe normally through the worst of it. Unfortunately for him, the worst of it was bound to last for hours. It always did.

“Harry?” Cisco’s tired but startled voice made him inwardly swear, the light coming on behind him. He felt Ramon’s hand on his back, gentle as could be, but it still made a sound escape Harry’s throat. “sh*t… honey, hold on, okay?” He felt the bed shift as Cisco got up, and he heard his footsteps hurry out of the room. Harry squeezed his eyes shut.

This was the part of the healing Harry didn’t think he’d ever get used to, the way it always got worse before it got better. He’d never quite understood why it had to be that way. Why couldn’t pain just ease while the healing happened? Why did it have to rage, forcing itself on its victims before it lost the strength to hold on? Harry’s breaths were slightly shallow, and he tried to focus on getting it to even out, making a low humming sound as the throb began to spread up toward his shoulders. His eyes were burning, and he was nearly bent over in half now. Somehow curling made it less sharp. He heard Ramon come back in, and the sound of something setting down on the nightstand. When he opened his eyes, he watched Cisco kneel in front of him.

“I’ve got the pills the hospital gave you.” He pried the cap off both bottles, pouring one of each into his hand. They weren’t opioids or anything like that, really more like a very strong dose of ibuprofen and a muscle relaxer. It was about all Harry would agree to. Cisco held them out to him. He winced as he let go of the nightstand, teetering a little. Ramon held onto his shoulder, then grabbed the glass of water he’d gotten. Harry took it gingerly, popping the pills into his mouth and swallowing them down with a gulp of the cool liquid. But then another spasm wracked through him and he nearly dropped the glass. Cisco caught it as Harry fumbled it, quickly setting it aside and moving into him. Harry’s head teetered forward onto his shoulder, wincing a little as he was reminded of the gash on his brow and the three new stitches he sported. Ramon smoothed a hand into his hair, the other still holding his arm.

“I’m sorry.” Harry said, voice thick. He was angry at himself for this. Which was stupid, he knew. He couldn’t control what had happened to him, or how his body was reacting. And he certainly couldn’t control how much it currently hurt. But that didn’t mean he had to like it, or the fact that he was very close to crying because of all the pain. He hated crying. He was stronger than this, right? He had to be. For himself. For Ramon.

“Don’t.” Cisco said sternly. “Never say you’re sorry for this. Just… tell me what to do for you. Do you want to lay down?”

“No, I can’t.” Harry managed. It was odd that it felt even minutely better being slouched over like this. But he wasn’t going to complain. Any edge off the pain was worth it. He curled his hands into Ramon’s ribs, gripping his t-shirt and pulling it tight around his frame.

“Okay, we’ll stay right here until you’re ready.”

“You can’t kneel like this… for long… f-floor’s too hard for your knees…” He grit his teeth, eyes squeezing tighter as another spasm hit. He choked on a slight sob. And Cisco leaned more into him, completely holding him up now.

“Don’t worry about me. I’ve got you, honey.” He said gently.

“f*ck, I’m not… I’m not this weak.”

“Are you kidding?” Cisco scoffed, “You’re not weak at all. But you are an idiot.”

“Why the hell would you say that?”

“Because you should’ve stayed in the hospital like they said. They could’ve given you better treatment there.”

“How? I’d be stuck in a glorified cot surrounded by things that won’t stop beeping and lights that don’t shut off, causing me to get even less sleep? No thanks.” He lifted his head a little, tempting fate. But there was no shooting pain. He stayed hunched, pressing his forehead into the side of Cisco’s. “It’ll pass.” He said much softer, trying so desperately hard to ignore the throbbing. There was just so much of it. Marrow deep and unending. f*cking hell.

Ramon’s hands moved to the sides of his face, holding him as Cisco leaned away slightly to meet his gaze. Concern filled up his eyes more than Harry thought he deserved, and he knew why. He was having a very hard time keeping the tears at bay, no matter what stubbornness or bravado he threw out.

“Why didn’t you let them give you stronger meds, then?” Cisco asked, searching his face. “You’d be in so much less pain now.”

“I can’t. I-I won’t.” He closed his eyes, feeling tears roll out of each eye. “Tess… and the alcohol…” He really couldn’t explain it in a way that would’ve made sense. And he was glad when Cisco smoothed the tears off his face. He opened his eyes again. Even when he’d first been hurt, he’d flat out refused anything stronger because he didn’t want to become dependent on the fix. He’d seen what had happened to Tess with alcohol. He refused to fall down the same hole. He knew it wasn’t the same, but it was a fear he couldn’t shake.

“I get it, honey…” Ramon whispered, so goddamn understanding. He stroked his thumb along Harry’s cheek. “Please tell me how to make it better, then. There has to be something more I can do till the meds kick in.” He almost sounded like he was pleading, and Harry sucked in a slight breath. Cisco put their foreheads together.

“You’re here. That’s… m-more than enough.” He replied, voice finally cracking. sh*t, he hated this. Hated how useless and pathetic it made him feel. But he couldn’t deny the pain was there, or that he couldn’t do anything about it. The pills would take time to work. And until then, he’d just have to sit there in pain. At least, this time, he didn’t have to do it alone. “I didn’t realize… how much I need…” He shuddered out a breath. “I didn’t have this last time.”

“Wait…” Cisco’s thumb stilled and he lifted his head to look at him. “Are you saying you healed up alone?” He sounded angry about it almost instantly.

“Not at first. Not until I got out of the hospital.” He cleared his throat a little, “I convinced Jesse to go back to school.” When he’d first come home, she’d insisted on taking a leave of absence to take care of him. But he fought her on it tooth and nail, faking the fact that he wasn’t doing well so she would leave. Truthfully, he hadn’t wanted her to go. And he was more than a little worried about doing it all alone. But he didn’t want her to uproot her life because his back was taking longer to heal than predicted. “I lied and told her I’d be fine. I made her believe I would be. It wasn’t her job to take care of me.” Something passed through Cisco’s gaze. An understanding. A firmness.

“Well, it is mine. And I’m not leaving you. Ever.” He searched Harry’s eyes, “You get that, right? That’s how this works now. You take care of me. And I take care of you.” Just as he said it, another spasm ran through Harry’s whole back. And it was bad. Very, very bad. He flinched instantly, a soft sob spilling out of his mouth and he nearly folded into Ramon’s hold. Cisco didn’t waver. If anything, he only got steadier. “Okay, okay…” he whispered, stroking Harry’s hair again. And Harry couldn’t stop the tears this time. “I’m so sorry you’re hurting. I’m right here.”

“Why would you want this?” Harry demanded, emotion clear in his voice. “Even without what happened at the labs, there are flare ups. M-my back is never… never going to fully heal. Somedays, there’s pain I can’t manage. Why would you want to deal with that?” He shouldn’t ask. He should just leave well enough alone. Maybe he really was an idiot. But Cisco kissed the side of his head softly.

“You are worth every minute of it. You’re not to going to convince me to go.” So he didn’t try. He let Ramon hold him and talk to him through the worst of it, he let Cisco treat him far more tenderly than he ever would have treated himself, and as the minutes passed, he quietly became aware of how easy it had been to do.

Being with Cisco Ramon was turning out to be one of the best decisions he’d ever made in his life.

Eventually, the pain meds kicked in. They didn’t exactly take all the pain away, but the muscle spasms stopped. And he finally found himself relaxing while resting against Ramon’s still kneeling form. When he was able to sit up completely again, he asked Ramon to help him to the shower. The hot water would help. And Cisco’s smile was as beautiful as the rest of him as he stood up, looking down at Harry’s still sitting form, as though Harry asking for help was a gift. It took a little doing, but Ramon helped him undress. Then he did, too, joining Harry in the shower.

“It looks so bad.” He heard him whisper from behind him, hearing the heartache in Cisco’s voice as he gently ran his fingers down Harry’s bare side. The hot water felt amazing. Ramon’s hands even more so.

“I’d rather this than the alternative.” Harry said quietly, his palms flat in the tile. Cisco had helped him wash his body and they were both now just soaking in the steam and the heat. Ramon’s body moved into his, hands smoothing around to clasp at his lower stomach. His chest pressed warmly into Harry’s back, though not enough to hurt. And Cisco rested the side of his face against him.

“He could’ve killed you.” He said almost meekly. “How, uh… how’d you stop him?” Ramon’s thumbs began moving gently against his skin. “There’s gotta be more to it than what you told Joe.”

“There is.” He said, closing his eyes and hanging his head a little. His shoulders pulled slightly. “It wasn’t a fair match, no matter what tools Benson had at his disposal.”

“Why’s that?”

“I know how to kill people.” Harry said, knowing exactly how it would sound. “When I was a child, my father insisted I be taught how to defend myself. That evolved into teaching me how to end anyone who might try to hurt me. He always said… my body needed to be as much of a weapon as my mind was. Even after my mother sent me away, I kept up with it. It was about the only good piece of advice he ever gave me. It’s, subsequently, why I don’t need a bodyguard.” Cisco was quiet for a long moment, the sound of the shower taking up space until he turned his head against Harry.

“Have you… ever…” Cisco nearly whispered. But he didn’t finish the question. He didn’t have to.

“No, I’ve never killed anyone.” Harry sighed a little. “But I’ve come close.”

“So… basically,” Ramon lifted his head entirely and then slid his hands to Harry’s waist, urging him to turn. He did slowly, not wanting to tempt fate and fall over. But when he was finally facing Cisco, the shorter man was smiling lightly at him. “You’re a genius and a badass.” Harry laughed softly, not at all expecting that reaction. Ramon’s soft smile turned into a grin. “It makes so much sense now.”

“What does?”

“Why you’re so many levels of hot.”

Harry laughed again, shaking his head. And by the look in Cisco’s eyes, he could see that was the whole point.

“I love you.” Harry said easily, smoothing both of his hands through Cisco’s wet hair.

“I love you, too.” He said just as easily, rising up just enough to kiss him warmly. “You stay here, let your back soak. I’m going to make us some coffee and pre-sun breakfast.”

“You can cook?” Harry raised a brow. Ramon shrugged.

“I will have you know, I make a mean bowl of cereal.” He said sternly. And Harry couldn’t stop smiling at him. “I’ll bring it to the bed. Okay?” He kissed him one more time. Then pulled away before Harry could tell him he didn’t actually have any cereal in the pantry. He was left alone in the shower, and he put a hand back out to the tile, turning and closing his eyes as he let the water cascade down his very tired and sore body. But he wasn’t half as sore as he thought maybe he should be. Not anymore, at least. He had Cisco to thank for that. It took a few more moments for him to realize he still had a smile on his face. He had Ramon to thank for that, too.

And he wondered, right then and there, if maybe Vegas might be a good idea after all…

Chapter 35: “Breakfast of champions.”

Chapter Text

Cisco had dressed in just jeans and a tshirt before he busied himself with making coffee. He was seriously disappointed when he didn’t find a single box of cereal anywhere. He settled for some instant oatmeal packets. Apple cinnamon. It was so… bachelorish. Cisco was going to have to do some real grocery shopping, Harry really didn’t know how to eat properly. Not that he was one to talk. He loved to cook, even if he wasn’t particularly good at it. But he only ever really made actual meals when he had friends over.

He turned in a slow circle as he waited for the water to heat up in the electric kettle. It wasn’t the first time that he’d looked over the inherent emptiness of Harry’s home. Cisco knew now why Harry had kept it so barren. Sure, the CEO was a bit of a minimalist. But Harry didn’t seem to be able to fill spaces with more than was necessary. As though he had to dumb down his own vibrancy. And, despite what anyone else thought, Harry was very vibrant. Which was why it had been easy for Cisco to find pieces of Harry everywhere that didn’t quite match the decor.

A tiny elephant figurine that sat on top of the fridge that Harry said Jesse had found at a yard sale and sent to him for good luck. Three crates of vinyl beside the record player in the living room that were all well taken care of but obviously listened to regularly, including two new albums that Barry had given him. A string of faded purple and green mardi gras beads on the key rack by the door that Iris had given him at an office party. An origami crane made out of a receipt sitting on top of the bedroom doorframe that Ronnie had made after he’d dragged Harry to lunch to talk about a project. A very, very pink fake flower that sat in a small vase on the coffee table that Caitlin had left behind because she thought Harry needed more color in his life.

Despite the emptiness of this place, the people he loved most still managed to leave their mark.

And Harry did love them. All of them. Even if he didn’t say the words. Cisco saw it in the way he interacted with them, and he wondered sometimes if Harry tried to keep his real feelings hidden on purpose. Like he was trying to protect everyone from himself. He had spent so much time in a self-enforced loneliness that Harry didn’t know how to be anything else. Until now. Until Cisco. It wasn’t ego that made him think that. It was the effortless way Harry was letting him fill up his life.

The pile of notebooks Cisco had left on the end of the counter. The ugly bright green throw blanket he’d left on the couch. The scattered cat toys that Molly had spread out on the floor. The sweatshirt and jacket hanging on the rack beside Harry’s coat. The bag of gummy bears on the side table in the living room. Little pieces of Cisco were slowly taking up some of the empty space. And Harry didn’t seem to mind at all. The thought made Cisco smile as the coffee machine finished brewing.

He poured two cups. Then rummaged around for a tray. He found one in the back of the cabinet beside the dishwasher. It looked like it hadn’t been touched in ages. He made two bowls of oatmeal, and set everything up on the tray before heading back to the bedroom just in time to hear the shower stop. He set it down on the end of the bed, moving over to the dresser right after and turning on the Bluetooth speaker, connecting his phone and playing some soft jazz. Then his bare feet carried him back toward the bed as Harry stepped out, a towel around his waist. Harry paused looking around as he smelled the coffee and oatmeal, then his whole expression became soft at the sight of the tray.

“Breakfast of champions.” Cisco smiled wide. And Harry chuckled lightly. “I’m going to order groceries. Ya know, real food like fruits and vegetables and stuff you cook in pots.” He sat down beside the tray and patted the mattress. Harry made his way to him, and he settled his hand on Cisco’s shoulder for leverage as he very stiffly sat beside him. He let out a breath. Then dropped his hand to Cisco’s lower back. “Any better?”

“Yes, believe it or not.” He looked out toward the still dark outsides beyond the sliding glass doors. “Just a little stiff now.”

“Well,” he grabbed Harry’s black coffee and held it out for him. “Stiff is definitely better.” He picked up his own coffee, turning the mug in his hand as he watched Harry take a long sip. “Ya know… I enjoy this.” He nudged him with his elbow. And Harry gave him a peculiar look. “Well, not you being in pain. I don’t ever want you to be in pain. But I enjoy getting to take care of you.” Harry’s lips turned up lightly, and he looked down into his mug. “I’m not going to stop taking care of you. That’s how this whole ‘love’ thing works, from what I’m told.” Harry chuckled, shaking his head.

“I never needed anyone to take care of me.” Harry admitted, “But… I think I want it.” He looked sideways back at him. “Which isn’t something I’m used to.” Cisco nodded.

“When I was recovering after Brian, Caitlin and Barry were pretty much around every single day. They didn’t really give me much of a choice, but… I still wouldn’t let them do all they wanted to do. I wouldn’t let them in, not fully. I didn’t tell them how bad it all really was for me. I guess I didn’t know how.” He set his cup down. “Everything I’ve ever been through, I’ve always managed to fight my way through alone. I think I convinced myself that it had to be that way. But they taught me I was wrong.” He leaned into Harry, smoothing his hand around his thigh comfortably. “I learned the lesson the hard way. I’m determined to make it easier on you. So the deal is… I take care of you, because you take care of me.” Harry was quiet for a breath, then he nodded, leaning in lightly and kissing his lips gently.

“Deal.”

“Good. Now eat your gourmet boxed oatmeal. I slaved in the kitchen making it.” He winked, and Harry smiled very fondly at him. They sat there side by side, eating and drinking their coffee, watching as the sky outside started to lighten. It would still be well over an hour before the sun really started coming up. But it was a gorgeous view, either way. When they were finished, Cisco brought the tray back to the kitchen. He found Molly curled up in the sink.

“You weirdo. That’s not a bed.” He said, scruffing her head. She purred like a jet engine. And he left her there. It was pretty awesome, actually, how well she’d adjusted to living here. Actually, it was awesome how well Harry had adjusted to her, too. And as Cisco turned to walk back to the bedroom, he realized… he didn’t want to leave. The thoughts planted his feet in the hallway. And he was blinking down at the wooden floor in soft stunned silence.

He wanted to live here. In this house. With Harry. High up on this hill, looking over the city they both loved. He wanted to make memories in these rooms and put pictures up on these walls. He wanted to make messes in the kitchen and have picnics in the yard. He wanted to spend every day and every night making this house a home with Harrison Wells. And it shouldn’t have been so surprising to think, considering he’d flat out asked Harry to marry him. He ran his fingers through his hair, heart dancing around happily in his chest as he pushed himself back into walking. He needed to tell Harry what he’d just figured out. But when he walked back into the bedroom, he saw Harry lying on his back, legs bent over the edge of the mattress, feet flat on the floor. He had his hands clasped over his stomach, and he was staring quietly at the ceiling.

Cisco leaned against the doorframe, crossing his arms lazily as he studied him. When he looked at him, he never really saw an age difference. He knew there was a fair amount of time between them. But Harry’s mind was so sharp, so unequivocally brilliant compared to anyone else Cisco had ever known, that he knew for a fact Harry could run circles around literally everyone in the intelligence arena. He was healthy, despite how he ate. And despite his back. In fact, physically he was delicious. He was fit thanks to all the running he did, and strong thanks to how hard he worked. Cisco had felt firsthand what his hands and muscles could do. And he’d seen it now, too. The way Benson looked lying on that floor was proof that Harry wasn’t just smart and strong. He was very capable of being exacting and brutal. And he was also capable of being… soft.

Cisco constantly saw that softness in his eyes, the quiet displays of tenderness and affection that filled up the cosmic quality of his blues. He’d felt the controlled gentleness in his hands and the effort it took to be delicate when his body was in Cisco’s gravity. He’d heard the aching joy in his voice when he told Cisco he loved him. He knew without a doubt that Harry was capable of being a comfortable and safe place to land. It made him wish that Harry hadn’t denied himself his own safety and comfort. He’d spent all these years letting himself languish in loneliness and misery. And Cisco was very determined to make sure that stopped. Right now.

He made his way over to him, sitting down and leaning onto his side, looking down at him. Neither one of them said anything. But Cisco held his gaze as he gently moved Harry’s hands away. Harry’s blues were so trusting, completely calm in the presence of his affection. And he leaned over, kissing him to memorize for the hundredth time how his lips slotted with his own. Then he simply hovered over him, tracing his fingers up and down his torso, tracing muscles, circling a freckle, counting ribs. Eventually, Harry’s eyelids grew heavy, blinking to closing. He wasn’t falling asleep, Cisco could tell. Cisco was lulling him into complete relaxation. And that made him secretly elated. He looked down Harry’s body, then began tracing a word into his chest. Harry inhaled slowly, then let the air out even slower.

“Do that again.” Harry said softly, and Cisco smiled a little before tracing each letter like he had before. Harry seemed to be concentrating, brows tightening in increments. “M… I… N…E…” Harry’s lips curved up subtly, and he opened his eyes halfway, still so relaxed. Cisco nodded at him. Then he began to trace again, Harry’s eyes shutting. “I… L… O…” Harry’s voice trailed off and his expression was completely at ease as Cisco wrote out the invisible words. “I love you, too.” He responded, looking at him once more. Cisco felt things coiling inside himself. Pieces falling into place, tightening, practically locking air tight. Parts he’d forgotten about, things he’d let go of, or pretended he could live without. He felt them all reconnect themselves, back to his soul. Back to him. All the things that had been broken, all the sharp edges and warped lines. Harry was the reason he finally felt whole.

“What’s that look for?” Harry asked, blinking heavily at him. Cisco loved him like this, so soft, so pliable. He was already hard from touching him so simply, this man he was so goddamn in love with, this man he wanted to marry. Harrison Wells, lying there half-naked and comfortable, letting Cisco write on his skin with his fingers. It felt like a dream. It felt like coming back to life.

“See if you can figure this out.” Cisco smiled knowingly, writing steadily with just his index finger over Harry’s pecs. Cisco watched as he closed his eyes again, concentrating. Then the corners of his mouth began to lift up into a content smile as Cisco spelled out the words, ‘I want you.’ Cisco loved that look on him. “I know the doctors said no exercise.” Cisco trailed his fingers down Harry’s sternum, over his stomach, then down his toweled hip, over his thigh. “But you can lay there and do nothing while I do everything else.” Harry smiled at him adoringly when he opened his calm ocean blues, hand smoothing over the back of Cisco’s head.

“I wouldn’t be able to return the favor.” He exhaled when Cisco’s fingers trailed toward his inner thigh. “And I’m really going to want to if you go any further.”

“Don’t worry about that.” Cisco smiled, bringing his mouth down, “I have that covered, too.”

“Dare I ask?” Harry closed his eyes, nose softly nuzzling his.

“You can ask. Or you can feel and watch.” He tasted Harry’s mouth a beat after, their tongues almost instantly touching as Harry sighed into him. They kissed long and slow, Cisco’s hand moving up beneath the towel, Harry’s thighs opening instinctively at his touch as he curled his fingers into Cisco’s scalp warmly. He spread his hand over Harry’s flesh, fingers curling, gliding up further. Harry’s balls were slightly cool after his shower, and he inhaled the moment Cisco’s fingers slipped beneath them, pressing into his perineum.

He moved his fingers in slow, achingly soft movements before cupping Harry’s balls and rolling them up a little. Their mouths separated, Harry’s eyes stayed closed, and Cisco couldn’t take his eyes off him. Harry looked so serene, even as Cisco’s hand slid up over Harry’s hardness. Instantly, Harry breathed out, so deep and easy, eyes not fluttering in the slightest. His hand smoothed out of Cisco’s hair and down his back, relaxing further into what Cisco was doing to him. God, he was beautiful. Cisco lowered his gaze down Harry’s body, taking in the steady rise and fall of his chest, lower to his toweled waist. And he pulled his hand out from under the white material, working the damp cloth apart so he could see him in his entirety.

“This view is mine for the rest of my life.” Cisco whispered, slightly in awe and blinking at his own words. He looked back up as Harry opened his eyes. “Anytime I want…” He held Harry’s quiet and still adoring stare. “To see,” He brought his lips back to his, smoothing his hand over Harry’s stomach, “To touch.” He kissed him one more time, hand sliding down beneath Harry’s dick, feeling it twitch over the top of his hand. “To taste.” He kept whispering, bringing his lips down Harry’s jaw, over his throat, toward his collarbone. “How lucky am I…” He wasn’t asking, despite how the words sounded. He licked lightly at Harry’s chest, kissing his cool skin.

Harry breathed a little harder as Cisco wrapped Harry’s shaft in his hand, scooting a little down as he tasted his way lower. He smelled like warm body wash, and even his muscles felt soft right now. Cisco didn’t want to stop. Harry’s hands curled into the covers, gripping gently. Cisco slid halfway off the bed, kneeling between Harry’s open legs as he brought his face in line with Harry’s groin. He inhaled the warmth of him, the clean smell of soap and sweat. He used both hands to spread Harry’s knees apart more, settling somewhat before curling his hands around Harry’s hips. He pressed his lips and nose slightly into the length of him, breathing for a moment. His eyes lifted to Harry, who was still so relaxed, letting Cisco do everything he wanted.

“I am so in love with you.” Cisco whispered against him, and Harry’s eyes opened. He lifted his head a little, blue eyes sparkling and shifting over his own. Without breaking eye contact, he pressed his tongue into Harry’s dick and licked up the entirety of him in one, sweet, prurient line. Harry’s head fell back with a huffed breath, eyes rolling shut as Cisco slid his tongue over the silkiness of the slit. The very deep sigh Harry let loose was the perfect reaction.

Cisco spent the next handful of minutes bobbing and laving, sucking and tasting, making Harry have to concentrate against the pleasure of it to keep himself as relaxed as possible. It was so satisfying, knowing how hard it was for Harry to keep still and not tense up. And there was nothing about this Cisco didn’t enjoy. The taste of him, the heaviness of him inside his mouth, the curve and the bluntness and the softness all at once. But he didn’t want to bring Harry too far. So he slowed and pulled away, sliding his hands down Harry’s thighs, using his knees to help him stand. Then he kneeled beside him and grabbed one of the pillows, leaning into the bed as Harry’s eyes opened.

“Lift your head.” He said gently, and Harry did, allowing him to put the pillow underneath, helping him prop himself up. Then Cisco gripped his chin warmly, kissing him deep and oh-so-thoroughly. “Watch.” He whispered, then pushed away, stepping back. Harry’s eyes stayed focused on him, as though there was literally nothing else in the world to look at. As though maybe he was surrounded by darkness, and Cisco was the only shining thing left to see.

There were a lot of things he’d never done before being with Harry. Things he’d either never thought about or refused to ask for. Things he’d wanted but never dared to show. Or things he needed but couldn't trust anyone to give him. He also hadn’t had much self-esteem in years, thanks to so many awful things chipping it away. Or so he’d thought. But all Harry had to do was look at him like that, and Cisco gained all of that back. Which was why he reached up slowly behind his head, pulling the elastic out of his hair, letting the long strands fall around his neck and shoulders. He tossed it lazily aside, then brought his hand to his waist.

Harry watched his fingers trace along the edge of his t-shirt, lifting it a little, just enough to curl his finger over the edge of his pants, tracing it along the line of his skin. He knew Harry had seen all there was to possibly see of his body, but he was as addicted to Cisco as Cisco was to him, which was half the reason why he knew Harry was going to enjoy every second of Cisco revealing himself inch by inch, to watch Cisco undress like a present only for him. He wanted to witness the lust and fire in Harry’s eyes.

Cisco flattened his hand against his own stomach, his lips parted, as he watched Harry’s hands get tighter on the blankets beneath him. Cisco slid his other hand over himself, palming his own erection through his jeans. He blinked at his own grip, massaging himself firmly as he simultaneously dragged his t-shirt up in increments. Harry’s eyes darted over every bit of exposed skin, chest rising and falling, his tongue peeking out momentarily. Like he wanted to taste Cisco’s skin.

Cisco pulled his shirt off with one hand, dropping it quietly to the floor, before trailing his fingers along his own chest, pinching at a nipple, closing his eyes at the sharpness of it. He heard shifting on the bed. And he groped himself a little harder, looking back at him. Harry had carefully pushed himself back against the rest of the pillows, propped up more against them near the headboard, legs still spread, his dick twitching. Nothing in him looked in pain, or tired. Not anymore. There was nothing but fire in his eyes and need on his body.

Cisco took that as permission to undo the button on his jeans, letting them pop open, then held the zipper, dragging it down slowly. The softly swollen head of his dick came into view. And Harry’s eyes locked onto it. It was the first time since the shower that Harry’s body tensed, the muscles in his stomach and arms tightening lightning fast, like he was physically keeping himself from getting off that bed to reach for him. Cisco smiled slow and knowing.

“Relax.” Cisco whispered, and Harry’s eyes closed as he took several steadying breaths. It might have been amusing if Cisco didn’t know how much Harry wanted him. Instead, it was encouraging and goddamn hotter than hell. Cisco watched as Harry’s eyelids half opened, roaming over Cisco’s exposed flesh before stopping on his dick as Cisco took the time to open his jeans fully, leaving himself entirely exposed without taking them off. He turned just enough so Harry could witness everything he was about to do. He dipped his fingers inside the material near his hip, sliding them around to his own rear, turning a little as he dropped his hand to his shaft, gripping himself the same time he began massaging his own hole.

“f*ck, Ramon.” Harry’s voice was nearly strangled. “You’re trying to kill me.” Cisco chuckled breathily, rolling his head a little, then a shoulder.

“Oh, I know you, Harry. I’m not letting you go against doctor's orders. I’m doing this to save you from yourself.” Cisco moved his hand from his dick, easing his pants down one hip, exposing more skin as he continued the stroking of his hole. He caught his lip in his own teeth, lowering his chin to his chest for a moment as he gave himself just enough pressure, pushing the tip of his finger in. His dick twitched all on its own.

“Save me how?” Harry breathed out, “By teasing me to death? How am I supposed to watch you like this… without doing anything?” His voice was decidedly rough. And Cisco pushed the other side of his jeans down, urging the material toward his thighs. Harry finally got a good view of Cisco’s finger moving in and out of himself about an inch every pass.

“You aren’t allowed to do anything. And if that’s what kills you,” Cisco sighed as he looked him over, “Then I’ll just have to bring you back to life, won’t I.” He pushed his finger a little further, then rolled his eyes shut, moaning at the feel. It felt intense knowing Harry was watching him do this. He kept it up, turning more, letting Harry watch him dip another fingertip in with the first. Even without the depth, he felt a bit like he was on fire. He cupped his balls again, muscles tightening in his body as he worked himself with a steady rhythm. He couldn’t go deeper in himself without lube. But, f*ck, he wanted to. He wanted Harry to watch every second of it, too.

“Don’t you dare stop, but… do that over here.” Harry nearly ordered. “sh*t, please, Cisco.” Cisco couldn’t stop the sound he made when Harry said his first name like that, all demand and hunger. And he pulled both hands away from himself, breathing in sharply as he turned to face Harry again, gliding his fingers into his own hair and gripping as he heaved a few calculated breaths, the muscles in his arms and stomach tightening as he locked eyes with his fiancé. “I want to touch you so f*cking bad. But I won’t… unless you let me.”

“Promise me.” Cisco dropped his hands, hooking his thumbs into the material of his jeans.

“I promise.” He whispered so longingly that Cisco dragged his jeans the rest of the way down, stepping out of them. Cisco moved without hesitation, grabbing the bottle of lube out of the nightstand. Then he moved forward onto the bed, kneeling into the mattress.

“You don’t get to touch yourself, either.” Cisco said, eyes moving over the three dark freckles on Harry’s left ribs, down to his abs, lower to his erection, so rigid and firmly pressed against his stomach, the head of it swollen and waiting. “Only I do. Promise that, too.”

“I’ll promise you anything. Just come here.” Harry said a little gruffly. Cisco crawled forward, between Harry’s legs. He set the bottle aside for a moment, pressing his hands into the mattress by Harry’s hips and instantly laved over the head of Harry’s dick.

Harry gasped out, a low and wanting sound coming out of his mouth. He practically white-knuckled the blankets. Cisco steadily and dutifully sucked, he swirled his tongue with every pass, he hollowed his cheeks and hummed around him before settling his mouth just around Harry’s aching, round, soft head. He sucked only there, tongue sweeping back and forth over the slit, tasting the precum, making Harry’s breath pick up. And then he just pulled his mouth away, watching as Harry’s jaw clenched tightly in near frustration at being left so wanting.

“You promised. Now relax.” Cisco reminded so f*cking gently. Harry nodded once, unable to say a single word. And Cisco wanted to burn the image of his eyes into his brain forever. Never in his entire life had anyone looked at him like that… as though he was both life and death bottled into one man, with all the power that came with it. Cisco reached forward and grabbed one of the largest pillows before he sat back on his feet, folding the pillow behind himself. Then he picked up the lube before he situated himself till he had draped his own legs over Harry’s, bent at the knee, feet in the mattress as he fell back with his head landing against the pillow, essentially having them face each other with far too much space in between. But neither one of them could hardly complain about the view, both of them propped up and watching one another.

Harry’s eyes moved to Cisco’s dick, lower, then back up. And Cisco poured some lube onto his fingers. He used one hand to cup his own balls, tucking them up as he curled his now slick fingers into his hole. Harry’s mouth opened, chest rising and falling as his gaze became nearly laser focused on what Cisco was doing.

It wasn’t the first time he’d worked himself open. He’d done it before, to give himself stimulation while jacking off. But he’d never done it like this, completely at the mercy of Harry’s endless blue stare. He felt more exposed than he ever had in his life, and for the first time since he started all this, he felt a soft flush of nervousness settle into his chest and throat.

“What a gift you are…” Harry said out loud, voice somehow tender. And as simple as those words were, it made Cisco’s entire body relax. Especially when he witnessed the wonder on Harry’s face. Any hesitation completely disappeared.

He spent the next few minutes working lube into himself, pulsing one finger in and out straight to the knuckle over and over. He took his time before working in a second, watching every shift of Harry’s eyes, every breath he took. He gripped his own co*ck, pumping and pulsing, fingers working as he lifted his legs, curling his pelvis toward himself, giving him better access. He felt lit up and slightly raw, and he wanted more, but needed this to last. He needed to see and feel and hear all of Harry’s reactions in his dreams when this was over. Minutes passed until he could curl a third in, and he moaned out at the feel of it.

“Please, Cisco…” Harry sounded slightly wrecked, and Cisco whined immediately. He could feel the pressure in his own dick becoming demanding. “I need to… to… p-please.”

“You’re begging,” He shuddered, “I love when you beg for me.”

“How could I not? I want to f*ck you so badly. Do you have any idea what you’ve done?” Harry’s eyes squeezed shut, his fingers flexed against the covers, knuckles cracking as he let the cloth go, then gripped them again.

“You can’t, you can’t f*ck me, Harry.” He panted out, arching a little into his own ministrations, curling his fingers harshly into himself. “Oh, f*ck… but you can watch me.”

“That’s not enough.” His fingers flexed again, he was trying so hard to keep his promise. “It’s not f*cking enough.” He sounded almost angry about it. And Cisco smiled, feeling like he’d won something. He felt the pressure in his groin expand exponentially. And he pulled his hand from himself, chest nearly strangling as he held off the need to release. He pushed himself up fast, moving up over Harry, straddling his waist and curving his groin down. He grabbed the headboard with one hand, peering at him. And he pressed their groins together, holding both of their dicks in his hand. Harry instantly moaned, hands coming up into the air, hovering nearby like he wanted to grab onto Cisco so badly.

“Relax, relax…” Cisco panted, “I’ll give you what you want. I’ll give us both what we want. Relax for me, Harry. f*ck, look at you.” He tightened them together and Harry nearly choked on whatever sound tried to make its way out of his throat. “I’ll always give you what you want.” His last word was half a sob as he began stroking them in earnest. Harry’s eyes closed and he panted as his arms dropped to his sides, chest heaving as the rest of him seemed to do exactly as Cisco said.

Cisco felt his hole twitching as he quickly and desperately pumped them both. To his great surprise, Harry came apart first, a whimper escaping his throat as his stomach tightened and his org*sm pulsed out onto his chest and stomach. The fact that Cisco had brought him to the edge with so little was f*cking wonderful to realize. The sight was enough to make Cisco come, too, making even more of a mess on Harry. Warm and salty strips painted his skin, and Cisco didn’t stop his hand until he was sure neither one of them had anything to give. It all happened so fast that Cisco wasn’t entirely sure he wasn’t hallucinating it. But it had to be real, because everything in his body was buzzing, head to toe. And just looking at the mess he’d made out of Harry was practically picture perfect.

It was quiet, then. Time was slowing down, their chests heaving, and his own ass aching. There was nothing but the feel of his hand gently letting go of himself and Harry, and his other hand slowly releasing the headboard as he eased himself backward onto his feet between Harry’s legs. He couldn’t stop staring at their combined mess on Harry’s skin. Harry’s eyes were closed. Despite his heavy breaths, he was completely limp. That was a sight he was definitely going to dream about.

“Ramon… when my back and head get better,” he lazily opened his eyes, looking Cisco over with a soft lick of his lips, “I am going to f*ck you until you scream. I promise.” He said very clearly. And if Cisco hadn’t already come, that would have made him do it. Holy sh*t, did he want that.

“You better.” He inhaled as he spoke, shivering as the air came back out. Because he didn’t just want that. He needed that so bad he couldn’t think straight. Between the sight of Harry laying there so spent and beautiful, and the images his words instantly conjured up, Cisco had no protest in him. And he was pretty sure he was going to be internally counting the hours until that moment came to pass. Harry cracked a very knowing, very alluring smile. And Cisco was smiling back before he could stop himself. He used Harry’s towel to clean him up, lightly wiping away what they’d spent.

When he was finished and had dropped the towel to the floor, Harry held out his hand to him. Cisco took it without a second thought, letting Harry urge him forward until their mouths connected and Cisco slowly lowered himself against him. Harry completely wrapped his arms around him, safe and solid and home.

Home.

He blinked at Harry when their lips separated.

“I can see the gears turning in your eyes. What is it?” He asked softly, sliding his hand up beneath Cisco’s hair.

“I’m… I…” Cisco didn’t have the words. Or he did. He had the exact right word. Harry’s brows furrowed softly.

“My beautiful,” Harry said, squeezing the back of his neck gently. “Talk to me.” Cisco sighed at the way he’d said that. Not just ‘beautiful.’ But Harry’s.

“It’s just,” Cisco swallowed and pressed their foreheads together. “I’m home. You’re… you’re my home. Which I know sounds crazy to say after you just promised to f*ck me.” He cracked a sideways smile and Harry chuckled lightly. But then he made a ‘mm’ sound before he kissed him so smoothly.

“You’re my solace.” Harry finally said to him. “Which means I’ll always be your home, if you let me.” His blues danced over Cisco’s browns. “So let me ask you… I know you love your neighborhood, and you’ve lived there for a reason, but…” Cisco’s brows rose, and he lifted his head to see Harry better.

“Yes.” He nodded quickly. And Harry’s own brows went up.

“Yes what?”

“Yes, I will move in with you.” Cisco grinned. And Harry laughed lightly. “We’re already engaged. It’s a logical next step, right? And… I swear I was just thinking about it earlier. Do you read minds?” He squinted dubiously, and Harry huffed a small laugh.

“Hardly. I simply thought… we didn’t really discuss where we’d end up.”

“I just told you, Harry. You’re my home. And I can go visit everyone anytime I want. I don’t have to leave the neighborhood completely. Just the apartment. The gang and I will be tight for life. Ya know, I’ll still go by for barbecues and pie and jazz music in the yard.” He looked around them a little, “But I am changing the décor around here the moment you give me a key, so be prepared. I need to liven this place up a bit.”

“You already have.” Harry said, and Cisco looked back at him. There was nothing but sincerity on his face. And Cisco felt something in his chest get tight.

“Stop that.” He said very softly.

“Stop what?”

“Making me fall in love with you more.” Cisco whispered.

“I fall in love with you more every moment. Only seems fair to try to keep up.” Harry whispered back, then pulled Cisco into one more, far too perfect kiss…

Chapter 36: “You might just wear me down.”

Chapter Text

“I’m fine. How did you even hear about this?” Harry asked a little roughly, sitting slowly onto the couch, his whole body practically sighing when he settled in. He dropped his head back, keeping the phone by his ear.

He wasn’t in pain anymore. It was now just a deep ache he could easily muscle through, thanks to Ramon. The man had been pampering him all day, which Harry was really trying not to argue with. Not because he didn’t want it, but because he wasn’t used to it. Truthfully, he’d do the same for Ramon. So how could he tell him not to do it for him? They were partners in this now, in life and everything that came with it. Harry was all in, with everything that meant. Including letting his soon-to-be-husband ease the pain in his body. The stiffness would need a bit more time, however. Honestly, his head was hurting now more than his back was. No amount of pampering would change that. Concussions were never a good time.

‘When you didn’t call…’ Tess’s voice sounded hesitant, ‘You always keep your word. So I thought something might be wrong. I called your office. Mr. Allen told me you’d been in the hospital.’ Harry lowered the phone for a moment, closing his eyes as he fought the urge to fire Barry. That man was going to end up giving him an aneurysm. He felt the couch shift beside him as Ramon sat down. And he put the phone back to his ear, feeling Cisco’s legs drape over his lap and one of his hands slide into Harry’s hair. ‘Harrison, we don’t have to discuss anything now, I just… I wanted to make sure you were alright. And I know when you say you’re fine that you’re not actually fine.’

“It’s none of your concern, Tess.” He said sternly, opening his eyes. He draped his free hand over Ramon’s legs, curling his fingers into the crook of his knee. Cisco was watching him quietly, though was giving him a ‘don’t be an ass’ look. He frowned a little at him without lifting his head. “I apologize for not calling when I said I would. A lot has happened since the gala.”

‘I saw on the news. Doctor Snow gave birth? How is she and her baby?’

“They’re perfect.” He said instantly, blinking at his own honesty about it. Caitlin was as beautiful as ever, and Mirabelle was just damn adorable. They still facetimed with them. And every time Snow would call him ‘Uncle Harry,’ he immediately felt like an imposter. Unworthy. And really happy. He couldn’t explain the dichotomy. But he could admit, he loved the biomechanical engineer like she was his family. And he could admit, he liked the idea of getting to spoil that baby about as much as Ramon did.

‘That’s good. I’m glad to hear it.’ Tess sounded genuine, but then her tone became unsure. ‘Is… is Jesse alright?’

Harry turned his head to look directly at Ramon, his fiancé’s fingers kept stroking Harry’s unruly hair. He didn’t want to do this right now. He didn’t want to think about the complication that Tess threw into their lives. All he wanted to do was focus on Ramon, on going back to work, on Snow and Mirabelle, on Barry and Iris and Ronnie, on Jesse. But life rarely afforded all the things he wanted. He lifted his free hand to Cisco’s face, because he could, because he needed to. And he cupped his cheek, stroking his thumb over Ramon’s lips. And Cisco’s expression turned content in a heartbeat.

“Yes, she is.” He finally relented, “She’s got this habit of… always pushing forward.”

‘She gets that from you.’ Tess affirmed. He dropped his hand back to Ramon’s leg, and Cisco relaxed his head against the couch, still watching him. It should have felt strange, at the very least, sitting there with Ramon while talking to Tess. But it didn’t.

“Look, I know what happened at the gala wasn’t on purpose. But it has to be taken into consideration. You and I… we can move on from here. Jesse will need more time.” She was quiet before he heard her release a breath.

‘You really have changed, haven’t you.’ It felt a bit like an accusation. Though he wasn’t entirely sure why.

“So have you, from your own admission.” He countered, closing his eyes at the feel of Ramon’s free hand smoothing over his chest comfortably.

‘I wasn’t saying it was a bad thing. Of the two of us, you’ve always been the rigid one. But… you’ve always been kind. What I was trying to say is you’ve grown less rigid.’

“Thanks?” He made it a question. What the hell was he supposed to say to that? She didn’t know him anymore. All her assumptions came from a time far too long ago to judge from now. “Look… the bottom line is Jesse needs time. She gets to set her own terms. She gets to decide if she wants a relationship with you.”

‘And what about you?’

“What about me?”

‘What have you decided?’

“I… I think I’m perfectly capable of working with you when necessary. But it can never be more than that. We’re not friends. And we haven’t been family in a very long time.” He watched Cisco’s brows tense as he said it. “Tess, I don’t think I’m different. But my life is. I have a family, people I care deeply for. A permanence I want to keep. Being near you, thinking about the past… it’s not good for me. It’s not good for the relationships I have now. And what I have now… who I have now… I won’t jeopardize any of that.”

‘I understand. I saw how happy you are.’ She sounded like she was swallowing down emotion, trying not to let it reach her voice. ‘Harrison, you have to know… I need to tell you… I’d do anything to take back the hurt I forced on you and Jesse. You both deserved better. You still do. I’m truly sorry.’

“I know you are. And… I forgive you. I’m learning to forgive myself. I hope someday you can do the same.”

‘I never blamed you.’ She half-whispered, ‘God, is that what you thought? Harrison, you did everything you could for me. Everything. You were perfect, and I couldn’t-‘ She stopped and sighed, ‘You didn’t do anything wrong. And I hope someday you’ll give me the chance to really explain everything. I know now is not the time. But someday.’

“Maybe. For now, you and I have to keep things professional and give Jesse time. I’ll call you in a few weeks.”

‘Okay… okay. Take care, Harrison.’ She sounded so damn sad, but Harry couldn’t focus on that now.

“You, too.” He hung up, looking at his phone somewhat numbly before he set it aside. Ramon inched closer, then, getting right up against his side, curling his hand around Harry’s ribs, pressing their heads together while being mindful of the stitches.

“You alright?” He asked softly. And Harry sighed heavily, closing his eyes.

“I think so.” He wrapped both arms easily around Ramon, letting his warmth seep into his body. “It’s still hard just to hear her voice. It shouldn’t be. I think… maybe I’m being unkind to her because of it.”

“Her memory, her voice… it’s a trigger. You can’t control that, Harry. Believe me, I know. The important thing is that you’re trying. I think you’re doing a lot better than you realize.”

“It’s easier with you here.” He admitted, opening his eyes. “You make me feel steady.” He looked Cisco over, taking a deep breath, letting his lungs expand. Ramon tucked his forehead into Harry’s neck, relaxing into his shoulder. “I’m so grateful for you, Ramon.” He whispered. And Cisco tightened his arm around him.

“Vegas is still totally an option.” He said. And Harry chuckled, Cisco laughing lightly along with him.

“You might just wear me down.” He mused, then furrowed his brows a little. “Why do you have your sneakers on?”

“Ah, that.” He lifted his head and smoothed his hand back over Harry’s shirt. “I’m going to get groceries. Joe’s coming to get me. He insisted when I told him I wanted to go, considering how much crap we’ve been giving his guys.” Harry was about to protest when Cisco leaned in and kissed him, like he’d seen it coming, and he silenced him with his mouth, smiling when he pulled away. “And you are going to stay here and relax.”

“Ramon, we can have groceries delivered.”

“Yup, we can. But I want to get fresh food, which means I gotta go myself, right? I don’t want brown lettuce or rotten meat.” He slipped out of Harry’s hold, turning with his hands planted into the back of the couch as he hovered over Harry, his hair falling lightly around them. “I’ll be back. I’ll be with Joe so I’ll be perfectly okay. And when I get home, I’m going to make us really good spaghetti.” Home. What a wonderful word to come out of Ramon’s mouth. Harry had thought that the first time he’d heard it. He still thought it now.

“Spaghetti.” Harry parroted, crossing his arms. Cisco smirked.

“Yes, spaghetti. It’s one of the few things I know how to make from scratch that will definitely taste good.” He kissed Harry again, a little longer, a little more thoroughly. “Let me do this for you, okay?” He asked softly. And Harry sighed when he saw the damn near pleading quality in his eyes. “One hour.” He kissed him again, like he was having a hard time separating himself. And, honestly, Harry was having a little trouble with it, too.

“Okay.” Harry relented, “Grab some cereal while you’re at it.” Ramon smiled instantly at that, nodding.

“I love you.” He declared gently. Harry uncrossed his arms and grabbed him by the hips.

“I love you, too.” This time, when he kissed him, it was so damn deep and slow that he was fairly certain both their hearts began to beat in the same rhythm. It was so easy. Like breathing. Like drowning. Maybe it was both of those things. They heard the beep of a car horn outside and Cisco actually whined a little, sighing against Harry’s mouth before he straightened away. His eyes roamed over Harry’s face, stopping at his lips for a moment. “So unfair.” He mumbled, and smirked. Cisco winked at him, and turned away.

A moment later, he was gone.

The house was back to being quiet. But… it didn’t feel barren this time. It felt like Ramon had left his energy behind. Full of promises, full of hope and love and every damn good thing. He’d taken Harry’s hollowness and replaced it with something fulfilling. And he relaxed his head back again, closing his eyes. The house wasn’t an empty prison anymore. It was a home again. And for the first time in a very long time, he didn’t dread being left behind inside these walls. Because he knew it wasn’t forever anymore.

He planned on holding on to Cisco Ramon for the rest of his life.

* * *

“How much food do you think two people need?” Joe mused as he helped Cisco pile the bags into the trunk of his cruiser. Cisco might’ve gone a bit overboard. But he was shopping with a lot in mind. Breakfasts and dinners, midnight snacks. He’d never had to think about what all that meant for two people on a regular basis. How much was too much? What was too little? He erred on the side of… abundance.

“This much, obviously.” Cisco shoved the two cartons of milk to the back of the trunk, trying not to bang his head on the metal. “Harry’s cabinets and fridge are literally empty. The man does not know how to eat.”

“So you’re taking it upon yourself to teach him?” He tucked a carton of eggs up against the two boxes of cereal. Lucky Charms and Cap’n Crunch. Not the healthiest, but Harry wouldn’t complain.

“Somebody has to. Might as well be the guy who shares his bed.” He joked, watching Joe shake his head.

“That’s not all you two plan on sharing.” He motioned to Cisco’s hand. Cisco looked down at the ring, and he smiled almost immediately.

“You talk to Barry?” He countered, and Joe nodded.

“I talked to Barry.” He confirmed. “And I saw the ring when we were at the labs. I wouldn’t be much of a detective if I didn’t.”

“Then that means Barry told you the whole story.”

“Every detail. He’s good for that.” Joe put in the last bag and Cisco turned the shopping cart away as he closed the trunk. “I get all the reasons. And it all makes sense. In fact, it’s one hell of a story. The sort of thing you’d see on the Hallmark channel.”

“Funny.” Cisco demurred, shoving the cart into the corral next to the car. Then he slipped his hands in his pocket, watching Joe stare him down. “I know what it all looks like. I know how it all sounds. And I know you’re just looking out for me, which… you gotta know what that means to me, okay?” He stepped forward, searching his eyes. “You’re like a Dad to me.” He admitted, and Joe’s expression shifted to grateful in a heartbeat. “I love him, Joe. And he loves me. He’s everything I want. And I-“ Joe waved his hand at him, almost dismissively, which made Cisco’s brows go up. But then Joe gripped his shoulder.

“You don’t owe anyone any explanations. Understand?” He said in that stern ‘Joe-Dad’ way of his. “You get to be happy, without apology. No one gets to judge you for it. And… I’ve seen how Wells looks at you. I’ve seen the effect you have on each other. I think anyone trying to get in the way of that is going to be in for one hell of a fight.” Cisco was smiling, wide and full of relief. “I’m happy for you, Cisco. I’m happy for Harry, too. I better be front row at the wedding.” He pointed at him, then pulled him in for a hug. Cisco sighed into his hold. “For the record… you’re like a son to me.” He said much quieter. “So I’m telling everyone you’re my kid now.” Cisco chuckled.

“To be fair,” he said as he pulled back, “Barry and I already call you Dad when you’re not around, so we’re already way ahead of you.” Joe laughed lightly, fishing his keys out of his pocket.

“Ya know, if I’d known Iris was going to bring so many strays home, I’d have invested in a bigger kitchen table years ago.” He remarked, and Cisco shook his head as he made his way to the passenger side. Joe rested his hands on the top of the car, fiddling with the keys. “Cisco,” He nodded in his direction. “I’m not going to stop, I hope you know that.” Cisco mimicked Joe’s position, looking at him directly over the top of the car. “I’m going to find Reed. He isn’t going to get to you.” Joe looked down at his keys. “I’m going to make this right.”

“It’s not your fault, you know.” He said, watching Joe lift his eyes. “You had every reason to believe Brian was dead. I’m sorry if I made you think I blamed you for anything. I don’t.”

“You’re scared, aren’t you.” Joe wasn’t asking, but Cisco nodded.

“I really am.” He admitted, “But I also feel… brave. Braver than I ever have. I get that’s driving you crazy. But I lost so much because of what he did to me. If I get whisked away into protective custody, it means he wins again. Because I’d lose my job,” he motioned at Joe, “My family. And the man I love. I am afraid of what Brian can do, but… I’m far more afraid of losing everything else.”

“I understand.” Joe nodded gravely, “And I don’t disagree with you. But you’re going to have to give the rest of us some understanding, too. Me and Iris and Barry, Caitlin and Ronnie. We remember what it was like when we almost lost you the first time. You mean a whole hell of a lot to us. And we’re not exactly willing to let you go, either.”

“You won’t have to.” Cisco beamed at him.

“We better not.” He opened his door. “So if you’re still doing this whole ‘living life on your terms’ thing, I hope that means you plan on coming to family dinner next weekend. And you better be bringing Harry. I won’t take no for an answer.”

“Francisco…”

A man’s voice made them both pause before Cisco could respond. Cisco’s hand was on the halfway opened door as he turned to look at whoever said his name. Everything in his body came to a standstill as his brain tried to rationalize who he was seeing. Slowly, Cisco’s eyes went wide as his hand fell from the door, and he backed into the car like he’d been pushed. Joe instantly moved, coming toward him, hand on his holster at Cisco’s reaction.

“Dante?” Cisco said roughly, and Joe slowed his steps, stopping near the front headlights.

Standing right there, taller than he remembered, hair cut short and clean, watching him with the same startled expression Cisco remembered from the day their father had thrown them out, was his long estranged older brother. Dante Ramon.

“I… you haven’t changed a bit.” He mumbled, looking him over, sounding just as startled as Cisco felt. And Cisco swallowed, wishing the car would magically swallow him whole and teleport him back to the house. “You look, um…” He motioned a hand to him, his keys jingling in his other. “I-I saw you on the tv, with that guy?” It sounded like a question. “You look good, man.” He finally managed. And Cisco blinked at him, his lungs restarting their normal rise and fall. “This is awkward. Right? It is.” He seemed to be trying to rationalize Cisco’s silence, eyes moving from him to Joe and back. “I didn’t mean to sneak up on you. I just… I recognized you and thought-”

“You thought what?” Cisco demanded almost sharply, hands curling into fists. He couldn’t help it. What the hell did Dante think? That they’d just stand there in a grocery store parking lot and exchange polite conversation till one of them finally figured out how to walk away? No thanks.

“It’s been a long time, Cisco.” Dante said, and there was something in his tone… something that sounded like regret. And that only made it worse, somehow.

“Yeah, it has. So let’s not break the record.” He turned to sit in the car, but Dante stepped forward quickly.

“Wait, Cisco… please.” He said, a hand out placatingly. Cisco gripped the roof of the car tightly with both hands and tore his eyes away, hanging his head a little. Joe reached out and squeezed his shoulder. “Look, man I… I didn’t plan this, okay? Running into you here after all this time. What are the odds? It’s gotta mean something.”

“Yeah, it means we live in a big goddamn city.” Cisco muttered. And Dante moved even closer, undeterred.

“Please don’t go.” He urged and Cisco looked at him, incredibly confused. “Please.”

“Cisco.” Joe said, drawing his attention, though he didn’t look at him. “You don’t need to do this now.” f*ck, was he grateful for him. Now more than ever. Joe was getting a ‘Dad of the Year’ award.

“I can’t, Dante.” He shook his head. He felt the buzzing beneath his skin, pulsing at his temples, the sure sign of a panic attack coming on. “Not now, please not now.” He said, squeezing his eyes shut momentarily.

“Then at least… here, take this,” He fished his wallet out, pulling out a business card. He held it out to him, and Cisco glanced at him, “If it matters, I haven’t spoken to Mom and Dad in ten years. And I looked for you, Francisco. It’s all a long story, but I couldn’t find you at first. Please take the card. Call me when you’re ready. Give me a chance to explain it all.”

Cisco closed his eyes a moment, jaw trying to work out the tension and keep him from saying things he shouldn’t. But he plucked the card out of Dante’s fingers, and then moved into the car without looking at him again. Joe closed the door for him. He didn’t hear what Joe said. Half because of the muffled silence in the car, and half because his ears were ringing. But he was pretty sure Dante walked away. By the time Joe got in, Cisco was holding his head, trying to get the buzzing to stop. He felt the panic working its way throughout his system. f*ck, he did not want that to happen right now.

“Cisco,” Joe urged, “Take some breaths.” He did, in and out. Over and over, letting a numbness settle into his limbs, willing himself to keep it together. He dropped his hands to his lap, rubbing his palms over his legs. When he finally relaxed, Joe gripped his upper arm softly. “You good?”

“No.” He admitted. “Can we go home?” He asked, looking right at him. Joe nodded.

“I’ve got you, kid.” He assured, and Cisco felt some of the anxiety flee. Joe smiled at him, then turned the car on. Cisco hunched into his seat, looking down at the floor where he’d dropped the card. He didn’t pick it up, leaving it there for the entire ride back to the house. It was just too much. First Brian. Now this? The whole world was coming apart at the seams. It was all a lot of change all at once. And some of it was good. Really f*cking good. But some of it was turning out to be more than he knew how to handle alone.

He couldn’t get back to Harry fast enough…

Chapter 37: “Are we going to make it?”

Chapter Text

Cisco couldn’t stop pacing behind the couch. Joe and Harry put all the bags in the kitchen, and Joe gave him a quick rundown of events. They talked for a bit, Harry sounding worried and Joe sounding resolved. To be honest, he’d tuned them out a bit, needing to move to keep the panic attack at bay. He felt wound tight, ready to spin like a top. And his thoughts were on a collision course for a terrible destination.

The last time he’d seen his brother, Dante had been standing in the living room of their childhood home, refusing to look at him as their father threw Cisco’s things down the back door steps. He’d cried out for Dante, begged him to help. But Dante didn’t say a word. He let their father shove him out the door, and Cisco had tried to convince himself that it was because Dante had been afraid, too. But the truth had been plain as day. That had been the worst betrayal. Even when he hadn’t had anyone, he'd had Dante. No matter how much they’d disagreed on certain things, or how much Dante picked on him, they’d always had each other's backs. In an instant, that was destroyed. Cisco had lost his family and sense of permanence in a breath.

That led Cisco down a road of homelessness and sleepless nights and showering in the school locker room. It led to decisions he regretted and couldn’t take back. It led to him selling himself so he wouldn’t starve. It led to every bad thing that had ever happened to him. Here he’d been thinking he was finally going to get the chance to redeem himself, to be happy and at peace. But now it was pretty clear he was never going to be free of the past, no matter what he did. And he hadn’t told Harry all of it. Mostly because he’d wanted to forget the worst of it. He hadn’t thought about it since before he graduated high school, because it was easier to pretend it hadn’t happened. But seeing Dante had sent his thoughts from point A to point Z in record time, and all the things he’d wanted to forget were suddenly shoved down his throat.

“Ramon…” Harry’s gentle tone was almost terrible to hear. It sliced right through his resolve and he froze, looking right at him. He felt his eyes burning instantly, and his throat tightened. “Tell me what you need.” Harry urged, moving carefully toward him. He reached for him just as carefully, cradling his face. “Tell me how to help.”

“It shouldn’t be this hard. It shouldn’t affect me like this.” He managed, and Harry was just so damn gentle with him. Too gentle. “Why would seeing him do this?” He tried to rationalize out loud, questioning his own obvious insanity. “God, Harry… there’s so much you don’t know.”

“I don’t need to know.” Harry said, always so goddamn accepting of Cisco and all his battered parts. And Cisco choked on his own air, because he didn’t really deserve that, did he?

“How can you love me so much?” Cisco felt the tears making trails down his cheeks, and his chest heaved a moment after as his own self doubt ate at him. Harry looked surprised by the question, but swept his fingers over the wetness, his blues took all of Cisco in.

“Why would you ask that?”

“Answer me, Harry, please.” He nearly begged. And Harry’s own eyes seemed to grow wet.

“How could I not?” He whispered, leaning gently into him. “Don’t you see what you are?”

“Worthless.” Cisco squeezed his eyes shut, his father’s word for him spilling out of his own mouth. “My father said I was worthless. Then he and my mom threw me out. And Dante let them.” He sobbed, “And I hate them for it.” He gripped onto Harry so hard, pressing forward, turning his face into Harry’s throat. His long arms wrapped around Cisco safely. Always so safe. Always so willing. “I know I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t hate anyone. But I hate them. I do.” His emotions felt raw, sandpapered down to bare nerves. “The things I had to do to survive on my own, to-to… just to eat or have a safe place to sleep. I know they didn’t choose what came after they kicked me out, but I blame them for all of it. For what they turned me into…” He shuddered hard, pulling back and shaking his head, choking on a sob. “You don’t get it, I… I…” He’d learned the true meaning of disgust a long time ago, and the feel of it slithered back into his veins, keeping him from getting the words out.

“Beautiful, look at me.” Harry took his face in both hands, swiping his thumbs over his cheeks. “Ramon.” Cisco sucked in a breath, meeting his sapphire hues. There was so much goddamn love in his eyes. “You don’t need to do this.” He urged, “Alright? You don’t owe me or anyone anything. Not a damn thing.”

“But I do.” He curled his hands right into Harry’s shirt. “I owe myself. And I do owe you, Harry. I do.” He tried to center himself, tried to control his breathing. It hurt in a way he hadn’t felt in a very long time.

“You don’t. Not this. You don’t owe me this. You don’t owe me a goddamn thing.” He pressed their foreheads together, and he sighed softly against Cisco’s mouth like he’d already figured it all out. Like he knew what had happened to Cisco without him ever having to say it. But he didn’t know. Or he wouldn’t be standing there now.

“You don’t understand.” He whispered, closing his eyes too. “I need you to because I… I told you everything else. But I didn’t tell you this. It’s how I figured out that I like the pain sometimes.”

“Ramon…”

“I was starving and scared.” He continued, he had to get this out. He should have told Harry this before. “I hadn’t eaten any real food in weeks. And I heard from some other street kids that good money could be made by…” He swallowed, face crumpling again as he hummed out a breath. Harry lifted his head. “I was hungry.” He whispered. “And I didn’t know what else to do. There was a corner where cars would pick up anyone willing to have sex for money.” He opened his eyes again, watching as Harry’s expression became more and more serious. Something passed over his features, making his jaw clench.

“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought I could handle it. The guy who picked me up… was awful. I remember he smelled like stale cigarettes and vodka. And I remember how terrified I was. But the rest… the rest of it hurt, Harry. It hurt more than anything had before. And I just laid there and let it happen. It was like I shut my brain off, let my body do the thinking because it was the only way I could get through it. I thought it was my only choice.” He didn’t know what it was he saw in Harry’s eyes, but he’d never seen that look on him before. He clung to him a little harder, terrified he’d pull away. But he had to get through this.

“That’s the first time I had sex. He threw a hundred bucks at me when he was done and told me to sleep in the room he’d paid for. I think he was trying to be kind.” He laughed a little ruefully at the thought. “But I just laid there for hours afraid to move because… the pain had been what made me come. I’d enjoyed that part of it. And I felt nothing but hate. Hate for myself for becoming that… thing. And hate for my parents for forcing me into it. Hate for my brother for not fighting for me. Just hate. You think I made better decisions and fought for myself. But I didn’t at the start, not until after that. That all happened first because I was weak and stupid.”

He pushed away from Harry, then. He dragged his hands roughly over his face and into his hair as he paced toward the couch. He took several heavy breaths before he dropped his hands and turned back to look at Harry, who hadn’t moved except to look at him.

“It was the first time for a lot of things.” He admitted much gentler. “But I couldn’t do it another time. I’d have rather died. Bee got me off the streets shortly after that, and I never had to sell myself again. But I never let go of the hate. Or how much… how much I need the pain sometimes.” He let all the air out of his lungs, refusing to look away. “I made the mistake of telling Brian all about it. Because I trusted him and I thought,” he shook his head, inhaling, trying to feel less like he was suffocating. “…He was more than willing to give me what I needed. Except then it was always what he wanted then. To make me hurt. And I let him do it. He changed and he became a monster, and I let him use me like that every single time because I thought that was how I’d survive him, no matter how much I didn’t want it. But there were times I still enjoyed it. And I learned to hate myself even more.” He took a sidestep to the couch, getting closer to it, like he needed something solid nearby to get the rest out.

“I’ve hated myself since, okay? Do you understand now? You think I’m so brave and that I’ve built myself up out of nothing, but I wasn’t always brave. Sometimes I was just weak. And I hated myself for it… until you, Harry. Until I found you.” His face crumpled all over again. He had to suck in a breath as he shook his head. “Harry, you make me feel like I’m not worthless. Like I’m stronger than I am. Like I’ve never known hate a day in my life. Everything with Brian right now, and seeing Dante again… it's drudged all that hate back up. So, I have to know… I’m going to ask you again… Harrison Wells…” His voice choked around Harry’s name. “How could you love me so much knowing what I am?”

“What you are…” Harry said almost numbly, or that’s how he sounded. Cisco had to reach out and grip the back of the couch. It felt like some sort of blow was coming. And it didn’t help that Harry’s hands were in fists, his forearms tensed up like some kind of current was flowing in his muscles. But then his fingers relaxed and he walked straight up to Cisco, hands gently sliding along his cheeks, fingers curling into his hair. And as if that wasn’t unexpected enough, Harry’s lips found his so goddamn tenderly that Cisco’s knees nearly gave out. Harry kissed him soft, painfully slow, perfectly soothing. And Cisco nearly sobbed into the feel of him, hands clinging to him all over again. “You… are not your hate.” He pulled Cisco completely into him.

“You are the love you held onto in the spaces between your hate. You are not the moments that broke you. You’re the man who dared to find meaning around those moments. I’ve seen your generosity, your kindness, courage, compassion, and heart in every person who knows you. I’ve heard stories about you. And there are so many, Cisco. All of them good. You took the worst circ*mstances and built a family from it. One that is stronger than the one that abandoned you because of every single bit of yourself you’ve selflessly given to all the people you love. You chose your brothers and sisters, and they chose you back. You’re the pillar of light for an entire neighborhood. And you are the very definition of joy. For everything you think is so awful about yourself, there are dozens of people who see a million good things.” Harry was carding his fingers through Cisco’s hair, swaying him lightly as he spoke. Cisco had melted entirely into him.

“I don’t love you because you’re perfect. I love you because you’re real. Because when you look at me, I swear you don’t see the bastard I know I am. I love you because you’ve trusted me to be a part of your life, despite all the reasons you shouldn’t. I love you because you filled every part of myself I’ve spent so long hollowing out, giving me back my hope. You are everything I don’t deserve. If anyone is worthless, or unworthy at the very least, it’s me. I love you so much because I would be even more of a miserable fool if I didn’t. Don’t you get it, Ramon? You’re everything.”

His voice finally cracked at the last word. And Cisco simply stopped trying to seal the floodgates. He let the summoned pain and heartbreak and horror of his past out with every tear and sob and shake. And Harry held on without hesitation or weakness. He wasn’t entirely sure how long he stood there crying in Harry’s arms, and he barely registered when Harry maneuvered him to the couch. It wasn’t till he had no tears left, completely exhausted and slumped in half a ball on the cushions, that he spoke again.

“I’m sorry.” Cisco whispered.

“I’m not.”

“What?” Cisco blinked at Harry in confusion. Harry was sitting somewhat sideways, facing him. He had both arms still soundly wrapped around him.

“I’m not sorry. Any chance to know more about you, and to tell you why I love you?” he shrugged, “I’ll never be sorry for that. I am sorry, though… that you’re going through all this. I’m sorry your brother showed up like this. I wish I could do more to protect you from all of it. The past has a way of turning things inside out, makes it hard to see up from down. You deserve better.” Cisco smiled quietly, then brought his hand up to the back of Harry’s neck, stroking his fingers over the nape of it.

“You are my better.” He said softly. And Harry smiled, small and warm.

“You’re the same for me. I still think you’re crazy for wanting me. But I’m not crazy enough to deter you.” He winked. And Cisco chuckled right before a yawn worked its way out of his mouth. He tried to stifle it and failed spectacularly.

“He asked me to call him.” He shifted a little, shoving his hand into his pocket and pulling out the business card, which was now a bit crushed. Harry took it from him, reading over the name and number and title on the front. Apparently, Dante was a lawyer of some sort.

“Don’t even think about that right now. You should lay down.”

“I should call, though, shouldn’t I? I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t.”

“How would you be a hypocrite?”

“I encouraged you to talk to Tess.”

“Mm, well…” Harry tossed the card onto the coffee table. “I think that’s a bit different. Besides, last time I checked, he had years to reach out to you. He can wait for you, now.”

“He said he looked for me.” Cisco glanced at the card, the way it teetered near the edge of the table. “He said he wanted to explain everything.”

“Later.” Harry urged. “I’m not trying to deter you, Ramon. But I think you need time to process. And some rest before that. You should go to bed.” Cisco glanced at the clock on the wall.

“It’s only two-ten. And I never made the tacos.” He looked over at the kitchen with the bags still piled on the counter.

“Perfect time for a nap, then.” Harry slipped out of his hold, but grabbed Cisco by the hands and pulled him up. “Come on, I’ll tuck you in and get the groceries put away. It’s a little late for lunch now, anyway. You can make tacos for dinner if you want.”

“What if I don’t wanna sleep?” Cisco mused, eyes already feeling heavy. “I mean, I’m probably gonna. But that doesn’t mean I wanna.”

“I will pay you to stop saying ‘wanna’ and ‘gonna.’” Harry turned him by the shoulders and gently pushed him into walking. Cisco grinned.

“How much?”

“I’m a billionaire, Ramon. Pick a number.” He slid a hand down his back, moving to his side as they made it down the hall. Cisco’s already slow steps slowed even more until he stopped near the doorway. Harry gave him a confused look.

“About that…” Cisco said softly, turning to look at him fully. “The whole being married thing… I don’t want a prenup or any of that legal stuff. I mean, your money is your-“ Harry shook his head immediately and planted a hand over Cisco’s mouth, staring him down till he stopped talking completely.

“Ramon,” He dropped his hand. “My money is yours now. I’m fairly certain I can trust you’re not going to go on tabloid worthy spending sprees. And I’m happy to sign a prenup if you want. Because I trust you.”

“Ya know… people are going to… they’re going to say things. Have opinions. They’re going to think we haven’t known each other long enough, or know each other well enough for all this trust.”

“I don’t give a sh*t what people think.” He said nonchalantly before he motioned to the bedroom, “I care that you and I agree. Other opinions need not apply.” Cisco nodded, smiling tiredly, but feeling… better. Much, much better. He grabbed Harry’s shirt and rose up, kissing him lightly. “Come on, in bed. We can talk about it more later.” Harry ordered after, eyes shining at him. Cisco brushed his lips over his one more time before heading straight for the bed. Harry tucked him in, then leaned over him, stroking his hair back with one hand, the other pressed into the mattress. “I know that the world feels like it’s moving quickly right now. I know if we really think about it, you and I have moved just as fast. But I’m all in, Cisco. I want you and everything that comes with you.” He kissed his forehead, then stood up, still a little stiff. He didn’t show it, but Cisco could see it in the set of his shoulders.

“So am I.” He agreed, and Harry smiled before going over to the sliding door and closing the curtains. The room got darker, and Harry slipped away, closing the door to let Cisco rest. The emotional roller coaster had really wrung Cisco out.

Brian was still out there, even if he hadn’t made himself known since he broke into Cisco’s apartment. Harry had gotten hurt and was still dealing with the aftermath. Tess was a complication that was throwing Harry. And now Dante had shown up out of the blue. It felt like one thing after the other since he and Harry had started their relationship. If Cisco was being honest, though, the good that had happened far outweighed any bad.

Everyone he loved was on board with his new relationship. Jesse accepted him. He was an uncle now, and Mirabelle was doing amazing. And he had officially found his forever, his future, in Harrison Wells. The love of his life. His happily ever after. Maybe Cisco would never be able to see himself as worthy, but Harry did.

It wasn’t that Harry didn’t see the damage or the scars, it wasn’t that Harry was ignoring the past. It was that he was looking at all of it, and didn’t see anything disfiguring. Harry had taken it all in and still believed Cisco was more than enough. He saw more in Cisco than anyone had ever dared to. And he knew how damn lucky he was because of it. But the little demon on his shoulder was whispering that it wouldn’t last. That Harry would realize he was better off without Cisco’s baggage. A thought that had his eyes landing on the 8-ball on the nightstand, still visible even in the semi-dark. He reached out and grabbed it, shaking it lightly.

“Are we going to make it?” He asked quietly, then held the 8-ball still, waiting for the die to turn in the ink.

‘Yes, definitely’ rose up out of the depths. And Cisco let out a relieved breath. He set the 8-ball back on the nightstand and decided to believe it was true. He wanted this. He wanted to be happy. He wanted to be able to accept his past and see himself the way Harry did. He couldn’t wait to spend the rest of his life with Harrison Wells. And that was the thought he fell asleep to as the exhaustion finally dragged him down…

Chapter 38: “Tell me what you want right now.”

Chapter Text

Harry spent his time putting away the groceries, stretching more of the stiffness out of his body, and working on his laptop. But he could admit he was distracted by everything else. There was a pattern here, bad luck and life changing events were becoming the new normal. He knew it was a matter of timing, of his life converging with Ramon’s. But even if he hadn’t been with Cisco, Tess would have shown up anyway. Benson would still have tried to kill him. He’d still be standing there with stitches in his brow and a bruise spanning his back. And Cisco still would have had Brian Reed haunting him, Snow would still have had Mirabelle prematurely, and Ramon’s brother still would have shown up out of the blue. The two of them being together didn’t change what life decided to throw.

The difference was, they were going through each thing together.

Harry’s pain was Cisco’s now. And Cisco’s was his. Harry had a deeper understanding of how much pain Ramon truly had. Hearing what he’d been through… to be so young and so vulnerable, to have his entire existence destroyed, to have himself whittled down into such violent parts? It was horrifying. The fact that Ramon built himself back up from such a nightmare into a life he could find joy in was no small thing.

He wished Cisco could see the courage and fortitude he had. Not that he ever should have needed it. Ramon should have been allowed to grow up with the support of his family, graduate high school and college with his parents cheering the loudest from the crowd, had his first moments of true intimacy be with someone he loved instead of a stranger, and been able to build a life without feeling as though he was too damaged to be deserving of good things.

f*ck, he was so deserving. And Harry wanted to prove it to him. He wanted to spend every day for the rest of his life proving it to him.

They just had to get through all this first.

Not for the first time, Harry glanced at the business card on the table. He sat back in his chair, nearly slamming his laptop shut as he finally picked it up. ‘Law Offices of Weaver, Beckett, and Ramon; Mr. Dante Ramon, Esq. 1121 Tucker Park Way, Central City, MO;’ There were three phone numbers listed. An office, home, and cell number. He flipped the card over, reading the motto on the back. ‘To Protect Those Who Cannot Protect Themselves.’ He frowned, flicking the card away and leaning back in his chair. He dragged his fingers through his hair, feeling his back pull. He shouldn’t be mad at Ramon’s brother. He didn’t know the whole story or what he’d done with his life. Cisco said that Dante had looked for him. And Harry should have been all for Cisco calling him. But deep down, Harry wanted to tell Dante Ramon to jump off a bridge. Cisco was going through too much right now. He didn’t need this complication on top of everything else.

They hadn’t had any further sightings or phone calls or scares from Reed. But he knew Cisco was thinking about it every time they left the house. Hell, Harry thought about it more often than not. He knew Joe was doing the best he could. He had all his resources working on the problem. But Harry couldn’t help how antsy he felt. It hadn’t helped that Benson had sparked the urge to connect his fists with everything that was pissing him off.

It had been satisfying, connecting his knuckles with that asshole’s face. Harry spread his fingers out, feeling the gashes on each knuckle sting a little. He wasn’t normally a violent man. In fact, despite his demeanor, he preferred throwing things to hurting people. But he was capable of some pretty extreme violence when pushed to it. Something of which he had never wanted Ramon to see. He’d never denied it, he’d never pretended he couldn’t do real damage to someone. Even Joe West knew what he could do. But maybe he had been worried about how Ramon would look at him after he figured it out for himself.

Cisco still looked at him like he was the epitome of safety and home.

Harry was incredibly grateful for that.

A popping sound made Harry jump a little, dropping his hand as his ears strained to listen. Silence followed and he furrowed his brows, looking around. It happened again. A distant sound, like a car backfiring sequentially. He stood up, pushing his chair back and wandering toward the middle of the house, looking toward the two tall windows in the living room. He knew Joe’s officers were out there, lingering in his driveway. Harry refused to let them inside. It was bad enough they had to be there in the first place. But when another series of pops rang out, he thought about asking them what the hell it was. Luckily, they seemed to have the same idea. Someone knocked at the door, and he went straight to it, opening it without pretense.

“Doctor Wells.” A female officer was standing on his stoop. She seemed familiar to him, though he knew she hadn’t been there before. She was shorter than Ramon by a few inches, with bright naturally red hair, a soft face splashed with freckles and striking green eyes. She looked him over quickly, eyes sharp and focused. “I’m assuming you heard-“ the popping was clearer now, like someone was firing a weapon in the distance. “That.” She said, “I wanted to assure you, it’s nothing to worry about. There’s an emergency over the ridge at a campground. Someone was storing ammunition in a shed that caught fire. Fire services are already there. They confirmed the sound is due to that.” Harry’s eyes roamed past her head, and he stepped out, forcing her to step back as he looked over the trees.

“Is the fire contained?” He asked. There had been forest fires before, though not typically this late in the season. He’d been lucky enough that none of them had gotten this far, but it was still a worry.

“As far as we’ve been told.” She said, “There’s no need to worry.” A few more pops rang out and he frowned a little, finding the sight of rising black smoke far in the distance. He felt a hand on his elbow and instantly stiffened, turning to look at her. She lifted her brows and let him go, hand up placatingly. “Apologies, Doctor. I just thought maybe you should head back inside. I’ll be here until about midnight.” Harry found himself really looking her over, then. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he knew her.

“I know you, don’t I.” He said pointedly, and he turned to fully face her.

“Um, yes. I’m Officer Lincoln. My sister worked in your astrophysics department. We met once about… four years ago? Honestly, I’m surprised you remember.”

“Right,” he said as the connection clicked. “Your sister was Doctor Toni Lincoln. And you’re… Bobbi Lincoln.” She smiled a little.

“Yes, sir.”

“You were there when she received the Carl Sagan Award. She introduced you as ‘her brat.’” He remarked, and she chuckled, a blush rising up her throat almost instantly.

“Yeah, she was the epitome of the annoyed big sister. But, uh… I was really proud of her that day.” She had her thumbs hooked into her patrol belt. “She was really humbled to receive that award from you. You were a big deal to her.” She cleared her throat a little. “I saw you at her funeral, standing in the back. You… didn’t have to go.” Her green eyes danced over his features, “I didn’t get the chance to say it then, but I know you took care of her medical bills. And paid for her funeral. I’m grateful.”

“She was a remarkable scientist. And an even better person. Her brilliance was a great loss, but hardly all she was worth.” He said sincerely. Toni had died of metastatic breast cancer. By the time she’d been diagnosed, it had already been too late. He remembered her fight, all the chemo and treatments wearing her down. He’d visited her in the hospital more than once. When she finally passed, he’d ensured all of her bills and her funeral were completely paid for. Officer Lincoln smiled delicately, clearing her throat as she looked down.

“Detective West asked for volunteers for this detail. I owe you.” She looked back up. “So I’ll be here as often as I can until the detail is over. I want to make sure you’re safe. It’s the least I can do for all you did.”

“I didn’t do anything of worth.” He held his hand out to her, “I’d say I’m glad you’re here, but I’m sure the other Officers have already told you what a pain in the ass I’ve been.” She smirked and shook his hand. “Keep me updated, Officer Lincoln?” He dropped his hand and stepped toward the door.

“Yes, sir.” She said clearly, watching him go. He nodded at her and closed the door. He let out a heavy sigh before dropping his hand from the handle and turning. But he stopped the moment he saw Ramon standing near the couch. His hair was damp, like he’d taken a shower, and he had an oversized dark blue bathrobe wrapped around himself. His arms were crossed lazily over his chest and he had a very fond look on his face.

“It’s really unfair.” Cisco said softly. And Harry gave him a confused once over as he moved toward him. “That you keep finding ways to remind me how perfect you are.”

“You’re delirious, Ramon.” He smiled lightly, stopping right before him. Cisco smelled like warm body wash. “There’s nothing perfect about me.”

“You keep telling yourself that. But I see you.” He reached one hand out, smoothing it down Harry’s chest. “You’re always taking care of people.”

“I only did what was right. It’s hardly enough to make me perfect.”

“You’re wrong about that.” He leaned into him, smoothing his hands to Harry’s lower back. Cisco tilted his head a little, searching Harry’s eyes. “How are you feeling?” Harry’s brows rose.

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” He lifted both hands, smoothing them through Ramon’s dark strands. Cisco shrugged.

“I’ve objectively been worse. Though I do feel a bit like I overreacted. My anxiety kind of gets the better of me sometimes.”

“You hardly overreacted, Ramon. You’ve had a lot of upheaval in a short amount of time. I think you’re reacting quite fairly, all things considered.” He kissed him gently, smoothing his hands down to Ramon’s shoulders. “If it were me, I’d be throwing things and scaring everyone.”

“You’re hardly scary.” He smirked. And Harry gave him a serious look.

“You haven’t seen me really angry.”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t imagine it. I saw what happened to Benson.”

“And yet… you’re still here.” Harry tucked Cisco in close. Ramon relaxed into him. “I keep thinking, after everything you’ve been through, why would you want to live with my temper?”

“You don’t scare me, Harry. You were defending yourself, protecting what’s yours. I can tell you think that part of you should worry me, but… it only makes me feel safer. In fact, you’re always making me feel safe. Always taking care of me. And everyone else.” He slid his hands up the back of Harry’s shirt, soft and soothing, fingers stroking over the bruise. It wasn’t tender anymore. The ache was deep in his bones, but he could live with that. He closed his eyes momentarily at the cautious strokes of Cisco’s fingers. “You’re a good man, Harrison Wells.” Ramon whispered. “My man. And I’m not going anywhere, remember?”

“I remember.” He opened his eyes, and Cisco sighed before he leaned entirely into Harry, pressing his face to Harry’s throat and breathing him in comfortably. “Nothing you’ve told me changes anything for me, either, Ramon. I hope you know that.” Cisco chuckled a little. “What?”

“We’re always reassuring each other.” He sounded amused by his own words. “What if we just… wipe the slate clean?” He lifted his head, eyes roaming over Harry’s face, his expression sobering. “Ya know, go forward like we never had any of our bad moments or parts?” Harry smiled at that. He knew why Ramon was asking.

“I can’t do that.” He said, watching Cisco’s brows tense. “Ramon, all my bad moments and parts? They brought me to you. I wouldn’t have you if anything were different. And… I know you think I should, but I don’t see any of your parts as bad. All I see is the man I love.” Cisco grew incomprehensibly quiet, his eyes full of the things he wasn’t saying. And for a moment, Harry thought maybe he’d said something wrong. But then Ramon’s hands slid higher up Harry’s back, hiking his shirt up a little. Cisco never broke eye contact.

“Show me what you see?” He made it a question. “Please… show me…” That was a plea. Not a beg or an ask. But a real, heartfelt plea. And everything that had been raging through Harry’s head for hours suddenly quieted to nothing. All he could hear was his own heartbeat and the words ‘Please… show me…’ repeating in his head. He could do that. In fact, he wanted to do that.

He started by tasting Ramon’s plush lips. From the first moment they’d kissed, he’d found Cisco’s mouth to be supple. His lips slotted with his as though they’d been made specifically for Harry to claim, his tongue caressed his in wet and subtle sweeps as if it was all his tongue had been made for. And Cisco’s body became heavy and compliant against Harry’s as he examined Ramon’s mouth all over again. He loved his mouth. How it felt, how it tasted, and what it could do to him. But this time, he needed to show Cisco what all of him could do.

Without looking or separating their mouths, he undid the belt on Ramon’s robe, gliding the soft material open. He slid one hand up his torso, from his belly button to the hollow in his throat, fingers moving more into Cisco’s damp hair. He gripped the strands firmly, though not roughly, pulling his mouth away as he tasted across his jawline, toward his pulse. Ramon swayed, hands gripping Harry’s shoulders. The way his fingers dug into Harry’s muscles made him remember the last time they’d been intimate. How Harry had promised to f*ck him for teasing them both so damn well. And he could tell by the way Cisco reacted to Harry’s hand in his hair that maybe he thought that was what was about to happen.

But there was more than one way to keep his promise. He brought his lips up to Cisco’s ear and whispered.

“Give in to me, beautiful.” He breathed in the smell of Ramon’s shampoo, “Let me do all the work this time. All you have to do is… breathe.”

“Breathe?” Cisco questioned quietly, and Harry straightened, reaching up and pulling Ramon’s hands away, tucking them back near his sides. He inhaled quickly and Harry’s eyes roamed down his exposed flesh, from throat to erect shaft and back up to his eyes.

“Breathe.” Harry slid both hands onto his chest, pushing the material aside, smoothing his palms over Cisco’s shoulders, then down his arms until the bathrobe fell completely away. Ramon swayed again, unable to take his eyes off Harry, standing there completely nude before him. “In…” Harry grabbed the edges of his own shirt, “Out.” He removed it, watching Cisco’s eyes immediately take in the view of his torso. Harry dropped the shirt to the floor, then unbuttoned his jeans. “Keep breathing.” Cisco’s chest rose and fell, up and down. His fingers flexed at his sides, and Harry opened his jeans, sliding them off and nudging them away. “Just breathe.” His own breath shook as he looked this man over.

He was still the most beautiful man Harry had ever seen.

Harry knelt as reverently as he could before him, hands holding gently to Cisco’s hips. And he pressed his face right against Ramon’s hardness. It didn’t matter to him that there were police officers camped out in the driveway, or that a fire was raging in a nearby campground. It didn’t matter that Reed and Tess and Dante were haunting them. All that mattered was whether or not Harry could make Cisco believe everything he felt for him.

Instantly, Cisco gasped, hands coming back to Harry’s shoulders. “Ssh, Ramon…” He whispered, then began suckling at the swollen head of Cisco’s dick. He tasted clean and warm, his slit soft and the pinkness of him burned into Harry’s eyes before he closed them and took as much of Ramon in as he possibly could. And for the next few minutes, he tasted and memorized his hardness. He examined the curve of his length and made passes over the circle of his head. He made notes of the sway in Cisco’s body and the quivering of his inner thighs. And Ramon did everything he could just to breathe, just as Harry had told him to do. But Harry didn’t want to bring him to the edge. There was so much more to show him, to make him feel.

He stayed kneeling at first, sliding his hands up Cisco’s arms and gripping near his elbows, looking up as he pulled Cisco down to kneel with him. Ramon was wide eyed and panting slightly. Harry kissed him, guiding him further down, until he was flat on his back and Harry was on top of him. Body to body, flush together, the chill of the floor seeping into Cisco’s body, Harry drowned them both in the deepness of that kiss. Ramon shivered beneath him, thighs spreading as Harry swayed his hips to give them both easy friction. He could feel Cisco’s heart hammering between them, and he leaned into his own forearms, stroking Ramon’s hair as he pulled his mouth away. Cisco blinked heavily at him, lips still parted.

“Breathe.” Harry reminded, nuzzling his nose. “Lay here and breathe.” Then he began moving his way down Ramon’s body. He made a map of him, as though every freckle were a star and every scar made a constellation. He traced the planes of his chest and tasted the valleys of his stomach. He counted the caverns of his ribs and traced the curves of his hips. And all the while, Cisco seemed to be fighting the need to move, to act, to do more than breathe in and out.

“Please, please, please…” he began to mutter, as though the attention were both too encompassing and not enough to keep him alive, teetering somewhere between life and death and unsure which way he would fall. Harry slid completely away from him, standing over him, his feet to either side of his hips. Cisco grabbed onto his calves, almost desperate to keep him from going anywhere.

“Close your eyes and breathe. Do nothing else.” He knew it sounded like an order, but Ramon seemed incapable of saying no. His fingers glided down to Harry’s ankles, and then his hands fell back to the floor. His eyes closed and he inhaled as deeply as he could, releasing the air in increments. Harry wasted no time.

He went to the bedroom and grabbed the lube, and came back with it to kneel between Ramon’s spread thighs. And the next several minutes were spent working Cisco’s hole open, stretching him with all the patience and softness either of them could manage, until Harry had three fingers solidly inside of him, stroking his silken insides in a search for every nuanced texture Ramon’s hole could offer his digits. And Ramon was laying there completely relaxed, panting through every breath, fingers moving idly against the hardwood floor. When Harry was satisfied he was as open as he could be, he pulled his fingers out, then massaged gently at both of Cisco’s thighs.

Ramon blinked up at the ceiling before looking at him. And Harry took his hands, pulling him into a sit. Then he stood and got Cisco to his feet. Ramon looked confused, like he’d fully expected Harry to take him right there on the floor. And the idea was a delicious one, to be sure. But Harry wanted far more than that. He kissed him again, just to taste him, just because he could, and he guided Ramon straight to the arm of the couch. When they got there, he turned him around.

“Bend for me.” He whispered into his ear, and a shiver drove itself straight up Cisco’s body almost violently. “Sssh, relax, beautiful.” He stroked his hands up and down Ramon’s arms. “And bend over, now.” Ramon nodded with a huff, crawling forward, pressing his groin into the arm of the couch with a sharp exhale as he draped himself down. Harry took his time with this, needing to fight the urge to take Ramon for all he was worth right then and there. He was beyond sexy like this, body curved and ass open. But Cisco had asked him to show him what he sees. He couldn’t stop doing that now.

Harry slid his hand down Cisco’s spine, as reverently as he dared, as delicate as he could manage, digits landing on every vertebrae, pressing into the muscles. His dick jumped at the sight of Ramon’s body arched over the arm of the couch, his rear curved up and fully bared for all Harry wanted. Cisco’s hands were pressed into the couch, fingers dug into the cushions, shoulders stretched tight as he pressed his chest and forehead into the seat. His legs were bent at the knees, his groin pinned, dick pushed into the material of the couch arm. His hole was still slick with lube, puckering lightly in anticipation, and Harry was certain he’d never seen anything or anyone more beautiful than this man. He was going to keep this image forever, his secret pleasure, his deepest addiction.

He crouched there behind him, hands gliding over his skin, fingers of both hands curled over Ramon’s ass cheeks. He wanted to watch this, examining the way Cisco’s body gave in as he pressed his thumbs against his hole, watching as Cisco exhaled. He slid the ends of both in, breaching the rim. The sound Ramon made was wanton, nearly keening as Harry pulled at the edges, stretching him further than he already had. Harry exhaled sharply, feeling the way Cisco twitched around his thumbs, and he pushed them in completely, turning them till each was nearly swallowed by Ramon’s hole.

“Oh, please… Harry, please.” He whined, arms tucking in as he spoke, legs starting to tremble.

“None of that,” Harry whispered, “Be still, beautiful.” He slid his thumbs somewhat out, then pushed them back in only to pull them slightly apart, enough to stretch him to a small gape. Harry licked his lips at the sight. “Has anyone ever tasted you before?” He asked, his dick jumping and a shiver running straight up his own spine.

“N-no.” He tremored far too quietly.

“Speak up.” Harry said. It wasn’t a demand, he needed to hear him clearly. To decipher his want from any rejection.

“No.” Ramon said firmly, and Harry could feel Cisco’s hole relaxing in increments around Harry’s thumbs.

“I want to.” Harry slipped his thumbs out, curling his hands toward Cisco’s hips, but pressing his thumbs into his flesh, keeping his cheeks pulled apart. “Will you let me?”

“Yes, yes… I want that, too. Yes.” He sounded like he was reassuring Harry, giving him permission and telling him his own wants were valid. He breathed hot breath against Ramon’s hole, and it was like every string in Cisco’s body was cut. He went completely slack against that couch. And Harry kissed at his rear, lips moving into the slickness of the lube slowly. “H-have you done this before?” Ramon asked before taking in a large breath.

“No.” Harry admitted, “Which makes this all the more… intriguing.” He nearly panted that word out, then before Cisco could speak again, he licked very softly at the rim of him, tasting the edge, exhaling against him. He was soft beneath Harry’s tongue, and reactive. Harry could feel Ramon twitch, and he closed his eyes, swirling his tongue slowly around his hole. He hadn’t been lying, he’d never done this before. But he was fascinated by the sensation, of knowing that part of Cisco’s anatomy had never been treated to such softness before. With his eyes closed, he could almost see the ridges, the silken cavern that he knew the feel of around his dick.

“It feels so… oh, please don’t stop…” Cisco was back to whispering, his ass rising up a little. Harry held him firmly in place, refusing to let him move much more than that.

“Hold still, Ramon.” He did order this time. “I’m hardly done with you.” He was aware his voice was gruff, but he couldn’t quite help it. And Cisco didn’t seem to mind in the least, because he melted again the moment Harry’s tongue slid back in place. Only this time, he pushed in, and Ramon responded by releasing a breathy sound. His hole twitched around Harry’s tongue. And he sealed his lips in place, pushing the tip of his tongue in and out. Cisco tasted like the lube, which was clean and oddly sweet. He was warm, and the texture made Harry think of the definition of ‘soft,’ a pleasing quality with a subtle effect. Not to mention silken.

“I didn’t know it would feel this way.” Ramon spoke, voice quiet as though he were afraid to interrupt, but needed to be heard. Harry knew the anus had a high concentration of nerve endings, that the stimulation and attention could heighten need. But was it enthralling Cisco or calming him? “So soft… so much.” Harry felt him move, Ramon stretched his arms back out completely, palms flat as he relaxed entirely again. “It’s… you’re making me ache so good…”

Harry nearly smiled at the words, pulling back minutely, breathing onto Cisco’s hole like he was whistling with no sound. Once. Twice. Cisco turned his face to the side, eyes closed and heavy lidded. And Harry swallowed at the beauty of him before he tasted him again. He kept it up with a pattern of breathing, light licking, and pressing the tip of his tongue in and out. And Ramon gave into the softness of it to the point that Harry swore his hole was relaxed beyond anything Harry ever could have done with his fingers.

Finally, he kissed along Cisco’s rear, toward his tailbone, releasing his cheeks as he reached for the lube again, pressing his lips into Ramon’s spine as he upended a fair amount over his lower back. He slid his fingers through it, massaging it down between his cheeks, pressing his fingers into Cisco’s hole. Two went in so easily, no resistance, straight to the knuckles. Harry curled them in and Ramon’s mouth went slack. He was so goddamn sultry. As though there was not an ounce of tension in his body. Not a bit of hardness in his form. It was exactly what Harry had wanted from him, and for him. For Ramon to feel all there was to feel without a single moment of harshness in the mix. He slid his fingers out, moving entirely up Cisco’s body, pressing himself against him as he kissed along Ramon’s jaw. He stretched his own long arms along Cisco’s shorter ones, knitting their fingers together.

“Don’t move, Ramon. Don’t speak yet.” Harry whispered, shifting his hips enough to gently press the head of his dick against Cisco’s waiting hole. He breathed at the pressure, and Ramon trembled. “Relax for me. Trust me to love you like you need.” He closed his eyes, pressing his forehead into Cisco’s temple. He felt the man beneath him relax again, Ramon’s breathing steadying. Slowly, he pressed in. Not hard, not fast. He didn’t simply push in or thrust forward. He took his time. And it was almost agonizing. “You feel like the sun after a storm.” He praised, tightening his fingers. “Soft like snowfall, warm like a hearth.” He inched in, his own breathing picking up for a moment. “I love how you cling to me, desperate and tight, as though you’d lose your sanity if you didn’t. Even now, when you’re so pliable, something in you needs to pull me in.”

Ramon moaned longingly, though not loudly, his breathing picking up at Harry’s words, and his insides did exactly what Harry described, his walls tightening and pulling, encouraging him further. Harry kept the slow pace, however, making Cisco feel every inch of his length making a steady descent into his body.

“I’m going to spend our lives proving to you how much I love you.” He kissed Cisco’s cheek lightly, “I’ll give you everything I am. Everything you need. The carnal and the mundane and the exciting.” He felt his groin ache as he slipped a little further in. “I want to hold you in the dark every night, and wake up with you in my arms every morning. I want to take all your rage when you’re mad at me. I want to hear your laughter when you’re not. I want to watch stupid shows together, eat cereal in bed together, make a mess in this house together, grow old together.” He finally reached the limit, sheathed entirely, flush against Ramon and happy for it.

“I want to make love to you until my bones give out, to give you everything you ask for anytime you need. I want to beg for you, and hear you beg for me. I want you to give in to the gentleness as much as the pain. I want to give it all to you, for you to take it all from me.” He lifted his head to look at him, and he watched a tear roll out of Cisco’s still heavily closed lid. “My beautiful, please tell me you believe me… please…” He whispered the last words, and Ramon made a soft sob.

“I-I believe you.” His voice was thick as he responded.

“Tell me what you want right now.” He breathed. And Cisco quivered beneath him.

“This. I want this. Please don’t stop being gentle.” He nearly begged, practically undone already. And Harry closed his eyes again, sliding his hands away from Ramon’s grip, pressing his palms into the couch. And Harry gave him everything he asked for…

Chapter 39: “Mm hm, yup. I want that.”

Chapter Text

Cisco couldn’t have said why he was crying.

He wasn’t in pain. He was so far from it that he could hardly remember what pain felt like. Or maybe this hurt in a different kind of way, as though tenderness itself was a unique sort of torture. One he was realizing he wanted in every way he could. He’d started feeling it the moment Harry had stripped them both down. He gave in immediately, knowing how little restraint he had, and how strong Harry was for them both. Not once did Harry use his weakness against him. Instead, he transformed it. He turned it into choice and care, he touched him as though he’d only ever been made of holiness and light, he treated him like all the truths between them could never make Harry want him less. In fact, it felt like Harry wanted him more.

When Harry pressed Cisco into the couch, he’d thought he’d known what would happen next. But Harry telling him he wanted to taste him that way had been a reveal he never could have predicted. He’d never felt anything so stimulating, so alluring. Doing as Harry asked and relaxing into the feel of it was surprisingly easy. There wasn’t any hesitation on Harry’s part. And he was methodical about it, examining him with lips and tongue until he was satisfied that Cisco understood what softness really was.

When Harry molded their bodies together, he’d thought he’d known what would happen then, too. But he was wrong again, so very wrong. Every single thing Harry said made Cisco feel like he was being healed. Words turned into pleasure that turned into a very good kind of pain. The love Harry had spoken eased every rough edge and erased every scar Cisco had carried all these years. The damage was made nonexistent. Cisco was suddenly more than the husk of the man he’d been living as for so long.

When Harry asked him what he wanted, he almost couldn’t find the words. So he used Harry’s. Gentleness. He wanted the gentleness to last. He wanted to experience every second of what this good kind of pain could offer. And he kept his body relaxed and completely at Harry’s mercy as the man he loved more than rationality should allow finally began moving his hardness in and out and back in. Steady, like a heartbeat or a solar flare, Harry was as gentle as anyone could possibly be. At this angle, and with everything inside of Cisco relaxed, he felt electric bursts flood every vein as though it was actually pleasure that pumped his heart instead of blood.

His dick throbbed impossibly hard beneath him as his body rocked lightly. He could feel the wetness on his face accumulate, and the weight of Harry’s body added validity to the word ‘gentle’ somehow. Cisco gave in to the all encompassing feel of him, completely at his mercy, trusting him with everything he had. Harry’s hardness landed against Cisco’s prostate again and again, over and over in nearly agonizingly gentle presses. It made him want to writhe, to beg, to dig his nails into the couch until it tore. But he stayed relaxed. He willed every muscle into softness. He let Harry control every minute, only opening his eyes when Harry stilled against him, sheathed so deep and so tight that Cisco felt flushed with confusion and need when he no longer moved. Then Harry very carefully pulled out.

He used both hands to guide Cisco completely onto the couch, laying him on his side. Neither of them said a word as Harry pushed the knee of Cisco’s right leg toward his chest, hovering over him, pressing the head of his dick back into Cisco’s hole. Cisco hugged his own leg to himself, eyes rolling shut at the feel of this new angle. Harry pressed forward just as slow as he had before. More tears fell from Cisco’s eyes. He felt his face crumple, and he shuddered out a breath. It wasn’t till Harry was fully in that he felt his lips. They smoothed over Cisco’s, and he brought his free hand up, clinging to Harry’s hair as they kissed deep and long.

The ache from this angle was so different, as though the curve of Harry’s dick was farther and Cisco’s prostate damn near yearned to feel it. When Harry began moving again, he pulled back, rising up on his strong arms. Cisco tried to remind himself to relax. He focused tension only into the arm he had holding his leg into his chest. The painful pressure in his groin began to build in succession, and somehow Harry managed not to pick up speed or thrust harder, which seemed impossible. Wasn’t he feeling the raging need like Cisco was? He blinked his eyes open, and what he saw on Harry’s face… He looked blissed already, eyes blinking heavily, controlling every inch of his form as he worked himself in and out of Cisco’s body as though he had no other purpose.

“I love you.” Cisco needed him to hear it, to know it and feel and… Harry’s eyes rolled shut like the words themselves were some sort of spell. And Cisco’s own eyes closed as Harry put all his weight on one hand, pressing his other into Cisco’s bent leg, right at the thigh. It made his hips compress further and suddenly Harry was so deep that the pleasureful pressure in his groin expanded beyond his own comprehension.

“I love you, too.” Harry breathed out, and he moved in beats. One, two, and Cisco was coming. In fact, he was coming so hard that he was sobbing through it. His body didn’t feel real, like maybe he was outside of it, or maybe he was finally inside of it again for the first time in years. He got so high, higher than he’d ever gotten with pain, farther than he’d ever known with roughness. And Harry rode him gently through it. Three, four, five, and Harry was coming just as Cisco gave the last he had. He pulsed repeatedly inside of him, groin twitching, moaning out of pure pleasure as he released everything he had deep within Cisco. And Cisco was now nothing more than bones made of water.

He couldn’t think. He could only feel. He’d never known bliss like this. How was that possible? He’d never felt this way without the pain. Harry had played him like an instrument, hit every cord, stroked him into singing, and took him to the crescendo as though he’d written every note.

Harry didn’t wait to let go of his leg, shifting lightly and pulling out very slowly. He turned Cisco flat to the couch and Harry lowered himself down, eyes dancing over his as they focused on breathing. Cisco could only blink at him, eyelids weighing a ton, unable to focus. Harry smoothed his long fingers through Cisco’s hair, then gently wiped away the tears still on his face just as more fell out.

“Ramon, you look…” he whispered, then shifted them both again till he laid down with him face to face. Cisco found the will to move, nearly wrapping himself around him, and his voice trembled as he gripped one hand back into Harry’s hair. “Did I hurt you?” Harry sounded worried, and Ramon choked on a breath.

“No, no… you didn’t. I thought it was going to be so many other things. But you made me feel…” he sighed out shakily, “I feel whole, Harry. You get that? I’ve never felt this way without the pain. You did that.” He kissed him to prove it, as slow and genuinely soft as every bit of this had been from the start. He wouldn’t believe for a minute that he deserved any of what just happened. But, f*ck, he was never going to let go of it, of Harry. “I’m yours. I’m yours and you’re mine, and I’m never letting go.” He urged.

Harry stroked his cheek, then solidly wrapped him up in his arms. Everything became quiet, the air around them warm. Cisco’s skin felt sticky and his chest felt heavy. His limbs felt like jello and his insides ached just enough. And he wasn’t sure he knew what to do with any of it. Because he also felt like he’d been used up in every good way possible. And he hadn’t needed the pain for that to happen. He felt more tears roll out each time he thought about it. Maybe he was a little raw, in a way that had nothing to do with what Harry had one to his ass. It was like Harry had exposed his soul to the open air, ran his hands all over it, remolded him like clay, and put him back together into one final masterpiece. It was poetic and ridiculous and made literally no sense. But Cisco had no other explanation.

“I don’t know why I’m crying. I can’t stop.” Cisco whispered, face tucked up beneath Harry’s chin. Harry kept stroking his hair, his skin, just so goddamn gentle and focused on him, even now. “There’s this high… It’s part of the pain, of what I need. And you gave it to me without any of that. How did you do that?”

“I didn’t know I would. You asked me to show you what I see. And all I see is a gift. So… I showed you.” He made it sound so simple. “I didn’t know it would do this to you, I’m sorry.”

“No, no, don’t ever be sorry.” He lifted his face back to Harry’s and kissed him again and again and again, till Harry was flat on his back and Cisco was on top of him, wrapped entirely in Harry’s hold again. “I want you to do all of that to me again, whenever you want.” Harry smiled slow and lazy, and Cisco didn’t wait to hear a reply. He sealed their mouths back together, shifting on top of Harry, making them both moan softly. They were both overstimulated at this point, their dicks soft and bodies spent, but Cisco was still riding the edges of that impossible high and he felt like he was chasing it, trying to keep it beneath his skin.

“Ramon,” Harry whispered, chest heaving a little, “I’m an old man, remember?” He quipped, head turned to the side as Cisco kissed his throat.

“You’re not old.” He countered.

“Older than you. My dick’s gonna need a minute. Or twenty.” He was smiling when Cisco lifted his head, and they both chuckled at each other. But Cisco closed his eyes, resting his head to Harry’s. “Let yourself come down…” He whispered, like he knew, like he could see it. “I’ll bring you back there again. I promise you.”

“f*ck…” Cisco whispered, “Is there something wrong with me… that I need it that much?”

“Not in the slightest.” Harry stroked his spine, down, smoothing his fingertips over Cisco’s rear and back up. “I’m an addict, too.” Cisco blinked his eyes open, lifting his head and searching Harry’s eyes. “I’m addicted to… relinquishing control. The pain lets me do that. When I give pain, and especially when it’s inflicted on me. And what you did earlier… your strip tease, refusing to let me touch you.” Something dark and delicious passed through his deep blues, “You have no idea how high I got.” Cisco felt his cheeks heat up, hot and blushing, which was almost funny considering everything they’d done up to that point. “Have you ever… given pain to someone else?” Harry suddenly asked, and Cisco’s eyes darted to his shoulder. The bruise he’d left there that night in the SUV was mostly gone now, barely a gray shadow.

“Not like what’s been done to me.”

“Do you want to?” Harry asked clearly, and Cisco’s eyes darted right back to him.

“I… no one’s ever asked me that before.” Cisco said quietly. Did he? He loved the feel of being stretched beyond his limits, of harsh poundings and hard hands. He loved having his hair yanked painfully, and of teeth leaving marks. He loved being pinned down and manhandled. He loved knowing his partner was willing to cause bruises and leave him in ruins whenever he asked. But… he wasn’t sure he had it in him to do it to someone in return. “Do you want me to?” That was a stupid question. Obviously, Harry wanted it. He’d pretty much said so. “Sorry, I guess… is it stupid to say I wouldn’t know how?”

“Not at all. I know I’ve barely done to you all the things you enjoy. You told me what you like, but I’m trying to take my time with it. I’m figuring you out as we go.” His fingers slid between Cisco’s ass cheeks, trailing softly over his hole, and instantly he was reminded of Harry’s mouth down there. He trembled a little. “I’ve learned you like to feel the burn, to be stretched too far. I’ve learned you like being ordered around, and like you told me… to have your hair used like a tool.” His other hand came to Cisco’s long locks and gripped hard enough to make his scalp pull. Even spent and nearly off the high, Cisco’s eyes rolled back and he gasped. “Just like that.” Harry was smiling as he said it. “I want to know more.” He loosened his grip, still stroking Cisco’s hole softly. It was almost habitual. Cisco heaved a breath.

“What would you want me to do… to you?” Cisco asked, feeling his groin pinch a little, like things were stirring a little too soon and his dick wanted nothing to do with it… yet.

“I told you before. I’m game for all of it.”

“How can you be game for all of it?” Cisco smirked a little. “You can’t like all the same things. Let’s… okay, tell me this, then. What’s the most extreme thing you like?”

“Easy answer. Being choked.” That answer surprised Cisco more than he’d thought. And he looked straight at Harry’s throat, the strong neck, the large veins and sharp adam’s apple. “I’m not asking you to.” He added, and Cisco looked back at him. “I know that’s not for everyone. To do or to take. I told you before, Ramon, I’m never going to ask you to do anything you’re uncomfortable with.”

“It’s not that. Maybe… maybe I’m not sure if I am or not. Why do you like it?”

“It’s just another way to relinquish control.” He said easily. “I know myself pretty well. I spend every day in charge of something or someone, people looking to me for answers and assholes challenging me at every turn. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the power, I can admit that. But to have someone I trust enough to let go completely with is… a relief. And a gift. It takes me out of my head, settles something in my body I can’t even put a name to. And I’ve had that so rarely over the years that I can force myself to go without it if need be. Except… if I’m being honest… I don’t want to. Not with you.” He hadn’t realized it, but the whole time Harry was talking, he’d been sliding the first inch of his finger in and out of Cisco’s hole soothingly. It was relaxing, actually. Cisco smiled a little. “What’s the most extreme thing you like?”

“Uh, well…” he shrugged in Harry’s hold, “Being tied down really tightly and blindfolded is a really big one, being used without knowing what comes next. Did it once in college with a guy who had literally every toy I’ve ever heard of. It was… exciting and fun. A one time thing, but worth it.”

“Noted.” Harry nodded a little and Cisco chuckled.

“How are you so easy about all this?”

“Should I treat it like something taboo?” He countered, “I enjoy sex. I enjoy making my partner feel good. And I enjoy feeling good. You and I just happen to like things that aren’t the status quo. We’re both consenting, honest adults. And we trust each other. Easy.”

“If I hadn’t shown you in the SUV… even that little bit… would you have ever told me about what you like?” He asked, shifting his hips. Harry closed his eyes and Cisco felt how sticky they both were. It was almost alluring. Harry sighed a little, still effortlessly massaging Cisco’s hole, as though he needed to continue touching him that way now that he’d tasted him.

“No.” Harry admitted, looking at him. “Tess never knew. I think… maybe she had an idea. I’m always a little rough around the edges, but I was always verging on careful with her. Sometimes, she would ask me to be harder. But I think it was more for me than for her. She viewed sex as a physical transaction, something our bodies needed from time to time. I kept my urges to myself, thinking it was necessary for the sake of our relationship. I think… maybe I’d have done the same with you.” He kissed his lips softly, just a quick brush. “I’m not saying it was correct. But I was very alone for a long time, Ramon. I told you when we started this I wanted to get it right. Your addiction mirroring my own is liberating.”

“I want to try.” Cisco said almost immediately. “For you… I-“ He watched Harry’s brows lift, “I want to try whatever you need. You never should have had to deny yourself. I won’t do that to you. I’m not sure what I can do, but I want to try.” Harry’s eyes softened.

“You don’t have to. Letting me help you with it is just as pleasing. There are other ways I can give my control over to you.”

“I know.” He nodded, “But I’m going to make a deal with you. I’ll ask you for whatever I want and need. I won’t hesitate. And you do the same with me. We’ll both give it our best shots. We’ll figure out what works and what doesn’t. Okay? Together.” Harry’s smile was small but tender.

“Deal.” He said, then smoothed both hands up his back. “I know you already showered, but… join me for another? We’re a little messy, and there are still cops outside our door.” Cisco grinned, pushing up a bit. He could feel they were both half hard now, but it was still going to be awhile before they got fully there. Besides, he was now floating outside the high. Content to be in the aftermath, and they had the rest of their lives to experience the myriad of pleasure and pain they each wanted.

“How about a bath instead?”

“There is no way we are both fitting in that tub. My legs are far too long.” He smirked. And Cisco moved to roll off him, sighing as he looked down at Harry’s long, delicious form.

“You have a hot tub in the side yard.” He bent over and placed a kiss right to Harry’s stomach. “We can both definitely fit in that.” Harry propped himself up on his elbows, and Cisco instantly caught the slight wince. “It’ll be good for your back.”

“Don’t you throw ulterior motives at me.” He scolded lightly. Cisco helped him stand, grinning wide. “What if our wardens walk out back and see us?”

“Let them.” Cisco shrugged. Harry raised a brow.

“I didn’t know you were into voyeurism.”

“Oh, hell no. I am absolutely not. However,” He took Harry by the hands and started tugging, “We’re all adults here, right? There’s nothing they haven’t seen before.”

“Call me the jealous type, but I do not want anyone seeing any of this.” He pulled his hands toward him, and tugged him close, smoothing his hands over Cisco’s ass. “Or this.” He slipped one of those hands between Cisco’s legs, stroking his still half hard and spent dick softly for the briefest moment before bringing his hands up to Cisco’s face, holding him lightly. “All of you is mine now.”

“I-I am.” Cisco nodded instantly, not arguing with that at all. Harry smiled, then kissed him perfectly slow.

“Shower first. Then I’ll fire up the hot tub while you make those tacos you promised me.” Harry winked at him. “I think I have an extra bathing suit around here somewhere that you can use. And we can spend all night getting wrinkly in hot water if you want.”

“Mm hm, yup. I want that.” He nodded enthusiastically, and Harry chuckled.

Cisco felt lighter than air. His thoughts stayed focused only on Harry. On everything they’d just shared together in the living room and the soft throb he could still feel inside himself. Brian and Dante were the farthest things from his mind. And he needed it to stay that way, for now at least. They took turns cleaning each other in the hot spray of the shower, and Cisco spent time examining the now graying bruise on Harry’s back. It was incredible to think that it didn’t hurt much anymore. Though he had a feeling Harry had a much higher tolerance for pain than anyone knew. They got into t-shirts and Harry found two pairs of plain gray swimming trunks. Cisco’s were a little long on him, but he’d make do.

Harry put Frank Sinatra on the turntable, and after he’d started the hot tub, he sat at the counter in the kitchen while he watched Cisco cook. They talked and laughed and Cisco made a mess all over the counters. He caught Harry feeding a piece of chicken to Molly, and at one point Cisco dropped shredded cheese all over the floor.

Eventually they had a platter of pan seared chicken tacos with all the fixings. Harry poured lemonade and they set everything up on the side table attached to the hot tub. It was chilly out, but they were plenty warm when they settled into the hot water. They ate and talked even more, a speaker outside and the warm patio lights offered a soothing ambiance. And eventually, Cisco settled Harry between his legs, Harry’s back to Cisco’s chest. And he held him in the water, Harry’s head on his shoulder, as they discussed work and Mirabelle and where they’d like their honeymoon to be.

Cisco had never felt safer, or more at home. He was exactly where he was supposed to be. This was his happily ever after. And there was nothing in his past he was ever going to let get in the way of his future…

Chapter 40: “What do you want to do now?”

Chapter Text

Reed lowered the binoculars, feeling the plastic creak beneath his grip. He couldn’t watch them anymore. It was all so… f*cking domestic. It was a problem. He knew deep down that Cisco had always wanted the fairytale ending. The picket fence and the two point five kids. And here Wells was, offering it all on a literal silver platter. Of course, Cisco wouldn’t say no to that. But how could that asshole make him happy? He couldn’t possibly understand the lengths Cisco would need him to go, not like Brian could.

It didn’t matter, anyway. The plan was well in motion. It hadn’t been hard to convince Benson to attack Wells. Benson was weak and his ego was bruised. Reed had put the feelers out for ‘anyone with a bone to pick against Wells.’ One of his old contacts had told him about a guy pissing about Wells in a bar not far from the labs. He was easy to manipulate. Offered to pay Benson a hefty sum to take out his frustrations on Wells in person. He’d given him a thousand dollars as incentive.

Honestly, he hadn’t thought Benson would get as far as he did. It was more for fun than anything else. But he’d seen the stitches on his head, and how beat up Wells’ back was just now through the binoculars. It couldn’t have all been Benson’s doing, either. He’d have to do some legwork, see if it was a story worth knowing. Either way, now he knew for sure what Wells was capable of. He’d read the police report. Benson had broken ribs, a broken eye socket, a broken nose, busted teeth, and more than a few stitches. Harrison Wells was not a man to be underestimated.

In the meantime, he just needed to be patient. Eventually the cops would give up. Or Cisco would be alone. Maybe he’d get lucky and catch Wells first. He was patient. He could wait. All good things happened in time.

* * *

“It should not be this hard to make a cake.” Ramon grumped, whisking a little harder. He had flour all over one cheek, his t-shirt, and half the countertop. “Ya know, if you had an electric mixer, this would go by a lot quicker.”

“Tell me again why Snow needs a cake?” Harry asked, grabbing the cat for about the fifth time, dropping her on the floor after her most recent attempt to get on the counter. He and Cisco had been up since seven. He’d tackled some work, they’d eaten breakfast together, and then Snow called to say she was out of the hospital and was coming over to show off the baby. Harry was a little excited about it, though he was trying very hard not to show it. She’d been calling him ‘Uncle Harry’ all along, but he hardly felt he deserved that title.

“The better question is, why wouldn’t she want cake?” He pointed the whisk at Harry, two splotches of batter dropping to the floor as he hugged the bowl to his middle. Harry flattened his lips, and Cisco looked down. “I’ll clean that up later. Look, I want to do something nice.” He shrugged, and started whisking again. “It’s definitely not going to look pretty, but it is going to taste really good.”

“Uh huh.” Harry said flatly, though he couldn’t stop himself from smirking. His kitchen had never been such a disaster. There were still dishes in the sink from last night’s dinner, and currently there were cake ingredients all over the countertops. Eggs and milk and seasonings, a cake pan Harry hadn’t even known existed and a pair of used measuring cups. Flour and sugar and a handful of other things. Cisco had taken completely over, and Harry was all for it.

“I found it.” Jesse said, appearing from down the hall. She had a reusable checkered tablecloth in her hand, and was shaking it out as she walked. She’d shown up about an hour ago with coffees in hand and way too much enthusiasm for the day. She stopped in place when she saw the mess, which had only evolved since her arrival. “How are you not freaking out right now?” She asked Harry, looking directly at him.

“Funny.” He shook his head at her and she giggled a little, going over to the dining room table.

“How’m I supposed to lay this down if you’ve got your papers all over it?” She scolded. Harry dropped his arms and wandered over to her, putting his hands on her shoulders.

“It’s my table. Therefore, you’re not.”

“Not today, it’s not. Harrison Atlas Wells, you are going to clean this all up right now.” She turned in his hold and crossed her arms, crinkling the tablecloth. He fought the urge to grin at her, lifting his chin.

“I don’t know why you think using my middle name will get you anywhere, little girl.”

“Um, because it absolutely will.” She said, as though that was every good reason to boss him around.

“Last time I checked, this was my house.” He plucked the tablecloth from her hand and she frowned at him. “Now go figure out where the paper plates are stashed while I set this up.” He winked at her and she instantly grinned, nearly bouncing in place as she got up on tip toe and kissed his cheek.

“I think there’s some in the shed with the grilling stuff.” She said over her shoulder as she made her way to the back door. Harry shook his head, then paused when he realized he didn’t hear the whisking anymore. Cisco was standing still, bowl in both hands, smiling mischievously at him.

“Atlas is your middle name?” Cisco set the bowl carefully aside. “As in… the Greek Titan, bearer of the Heavens, Father of the Stars and Founder of Astronomy?” He was nearly grinning now.

“My mother had a thing for Greek mythology. I think she found it ironic.” He folded the tablecloth over a chair. “And there’s a reason I don’t use it. Everyone already thinks I have a god complex.” He began piling up papers on the tabletop, folding a set of schematics.

“I can’t believe I didn’t know this. And it’s a way cooler middle name than mine.”

“What’s yours?”

“Uh…” Cisco grimaced a little. “Baracus.” He narrowed his gaze on Harry. And… yeah, honestly, that was not what he’d expected.

“Francisco Baracus Ramon.” He intoned, unable to stop his own amused smile.

“So… long story short, my Abuelita had a thing for moths and butterflies. She liked the odd ones. It’s sort of tradition in my family to let the grandmothers pick the middle name so… Baracus is a type of butterfly.” He searched Harry’s expression. “See? Not nearly as cool.”

“On the contrary,” Harry said, “Butterflies signify hope, love, transformation, rebirth, and change. Which I find… very fitting for you. Your Abuelita chose well.”

“Okay… that was smooth.” Cisco squinted at him. “How do you know so much about everything?”

“I had a lot of time on my hands when I was alone.” He smirked and began making another pile.

“Which is totally not happening anymore.” Jesse said, strolling back in and plopping a stack of paper plates down on the messy counter. “Can I help with anything? I’m too excited to stay in one place.”

“Maybe you can teach Ramon how to clean as he cooks.”

“I clean.” Cisco pouted, grabbing the cake pan and setting it in front of him. He grabbed the vegetable shortening to spread in the pan. “Ya know, after the fact.” Jesse grinned.

“Messiness is a sign of genius, Dad.” Jesse reached over Cisco’s arms and stuck a finger in the cake batter. Ramon swatted lightly at her hand and she stuck her tongue out before licking her finger. But when she moved to go around Ramon, she slipped on the batter on the floor, yelping and flailing an arm out and catching the bowl with all the batter, flipping it and making the creamy batter fly literally everywhere. Cisco turned at the same time to try to catch her but ended up slipping right along with her, the cake pan going flying as he knocked it off the counter, both of them landing on their asses in a leg-tangled heap. And Harry stood there stunned with a stack of papers in both hands watching it all. At first, everyone sort of looked around as the cake pan spun on the floor. Jesse and Ramon were covered in batter, so was the floor, the counter, the wall and the fridge.

It wasn’t till the pan came to a standstill that Harry started laughing. Very hard. He couldn't help it. It was the most ridiculous thing he'd witnessed in a very long time. That made both Cisco and Jesse look even more stunned than before, but also made them laugh, too. Jesse laid down right where she was flat on her back and Cisco swiped batter away from his eye.

“Are you okay?” Ramon asked Jesse through his laughter, and she nodded, pointing at Harry, who had to set the papers down and bend over, trying to compose himself, hands on his knees.

“I think we killed Dad.” She said through her glee. “He’s having a gigglefit!”

Of course, that only made Harry laugh harder and he turned away, waving his hand at them. Ramon couldn’t stop laughing, either, apparently. All of this was absolutely stupid, and not nearly as funny as it felt. But damn did it feel good to laugh. The kitchen was an absolute disaster. But there they all were, laughing like they’d just discovered what laughter was.

Harry pulled out a chair and sat down, rubbing a hand over his mouth as he made eye contact with Cisco. Slowly, they all began to calm. And Harry dropped his hand to his lap. His face hurt from smiling so hard, and he let out a soft hum as Cisco pushed himself back against the cabinets. Jesse propped herself up.

“Wow.” Ramon said softly, features flushed and lips so gently stuck in a smile. “I love that look on you.” Harry felt his heart flutter at the tone of his voice as they held each other’s gaze.

“Those are some serious heart eyes.” Jesse commented, making them both blink and look at her. She was grinning harder than he’d ever seen. “You two are hopeless.”

“Yes, we are.” Harry said softly. Cisco chuckled and looked down, plucking at his shirt which was a lost cause of batter spots. Then he sighed and dropped his hand to his lap.

“So much for cake.” He commented, looking around. “We really did a great job.” His eyes roamed up and his brows lifted. He poked Jesse and pointed up. “We got it on the ceiling!” She giggled again, sitting up all the way but then gasped when she saw Cisco’s hand. She grabbed his wrist quickly, making him look at her. And Harry stilled. He knew exactly what she was looking at.

“That’s a ring.” She said firmly, scooting close to him, pulling his hand down for her to inspect the metal on his finger. “Like… an engagement ring…” Her eyes got wide and she looked from Ramon to Harry. “Oh my god, am I right? Is that what this is?” Cisco and Harry exchanged glances, then Harry nodded at Jesse. He wasn’t sure what she was thinking, or what that look on her face even meant. But then she let go of Ramon’s hand and stood up, nearly marching right over to him. Harry’s brows lifted as he watched her, looking up as she stopped right in front of him. “I am so… happy right now.” Then she moved into him, bending right over and practically pinning him to the chair with a hug. He made an ‘oof’ sound, hugging her back. Ramon was still sitting on the floor, looking quietly relieved.

“You’re getting me covered in your mess.” Harry chastised softly, and he smirked at her when she pulled back. She smacked him in the shoulder.

“Don’t ruin the moment.”

“What moment?” Iris’ voice piped in as she stepped through the now open front door, Barry right behind her. They were carrying pink gift bags and both of them slowed to a stop halfway in. “Oh-ho my god. What are guys doing?” She said, a little wide eyed. Cisco stood up, shaking his shirt out a little. And she chuckled the moment she saw him.

“Dude, you, uh… you got a little something…” Barry motioned toward his head. Ramon sighed.

“Yes, thank you. I’m aware.” He bent over and picked up the bowl, setting it in the sink. “I was trying to make cake till Miss Clumsy attacked.”

“Ah, excuse me? I never would have slipped if you hadn’t already spilled some. And when exactly did this happen?!” She demanded, putting her hands on her hips. Ramon gave Harry a pleading look and he put up both hands in surrender when Jesse turned to look at him again.

“He did it.” He pointed at Ramon.

“Wait,” Jesse turned back around. “You asked Dad?” Cisco crossed his arms and gave Harry a look that was every bit the definition of ‘how dare you.’ Harry chuckled instantly.

“I absolutely did. And why are you trying to get me in trouble? I know where you sleep.” He nodded in Harry’s direction.

“What is happening right now?” Iris asked in confusion. Barry was grinning like he knew exactly what was happening. Well, sh*t.

“Oh, nothing except Cisco asked Harry to marry him and Harry said yes, but Cisco ended up being the one with the ring because he lost a bet after. Which means Jesse probably saw the ring right before we came through the door and-“ Iris reached out lightning fast and grabbed Barry’s arm, quickly silencing him as she set her bag down.

“No way.” She started grinning and then let Barry go, moving straight for Cisco, not even caring about the mess. She grabbed his hand without asking, and he looked slightly embarrassed, cheeks pinking. “You knew and didn’t tell me? You are so in trouble later.” She said to Barry without looking at him. Then she beamed at Cisco. “This is incredible. I’m so happy for you.” She looked over at Harry, “Both of you.”

“Well, in that case…” Cisco grinned and tugged her in for a hug. She squeaked and laughed.

“Cisco, no!” She poked him in the side and he chuckled. “Oh now I’m all messy.” She brushed at her shirt and Barry and Jesse laughed.

Harry realized instantly he hadn’t been expecting this sort of reaction. He knew how it looked from the outside. The speed at which he and Ramon had gotten to this point was nearly faster than light. But Jesse hadn’t even questioned it, and Iris and Barry seemed perfectly accepting. And it occurred to him… he had no idea what to do with that. He meant what he’d told Ramon before, about how he didn’t care what people’s perceptions were. But he did care about these people. They were his family, even if he hadn’t realized it till that moment.

Afterward, everyone started helping clean up the mess. Cisco got changed and gave Iris and Jesse clean t-shirts. Harry managed to get everything off the table, and Barry called for pizza delivery. It wasn’t till after Iris put on one of Harry’s records that the front door opened again. This time it was Joe who came in, followed by Caitlin and Ronnie right behind her carrying a car seat with a very small baby girl bundled in pinks and purples.

Harry watched from the side of the room, hands in his pockets as everyone gathered at the couch and fawned over Caitlin and Mirabelle. For some reason, he felt like he was intruding on something special. Something he shouldn’t get in the way of. But then Ronnie plucked Mirabelle carefully out of Iris’ hold and walked away from them, straight for Harry.

“Your turn.” He said, stopping right in front of him.

“Oh, that’s not n-“ Harry instantly tried to step back, but Ronnie didn’t give him the chance as he easily moved the baby toward him. Harry had no choice but to reach out and grab her, and before he knew it, he was cradling her in his arms. She stretched an arm out, one tiny little fist going up as she tensed her whole body. Then she relaxed in his hold, face turned toward him, eyes moving in her sleep. Harry held his breath for a moment, feeling his chest go tight. It had been so long since he'd held a baby. But it felt so very familiar. He cleared his throat a little, looking over at Caitlin, who had turned on the couch to look at him. Her eyes were glistening, though she’d been like that since she’d come through the door. “She’s perfect.” He said very softly. And Caitlin nodded. Everything felt different after that. He was struck instantly by how natural it felt to have all of them there, to be sharing this moment with them, to be trusted this much by them. It was a feeling he wanted to hold onto.

Pizza showed up, and they all moved for the table. Caitlin unfolded a travel bassinet and Harry gently set Mirabelle inside. But before he could move away, Caitlin grabbed him and hugged him. He carefully hugged her back, feeling her hands press gently into his spine.

“I’m sorry for what happened to you.” She said as she pulled away, reaching up and touching his brow just above the stitches. “Are you okay?”

“Yes.” He nodded, “I promise you. You don’t need to worry about me.”

“You’re my family. Of course I’m going to worry. And you can’t stop me.” She said, dropping her hand. She patted his chest and stepped away. He watched her quietly before glancing down at the sleeping baby.

“I’m even more in love with you right now.” Ramon’s soft voice appeared beside him and he blinked, turning to look at him. Cisco was watching him from barely a foot away. He reached up and curled a hand behind his head, pulling him in for a slow kiss. Harry sighed into it, feeling himself relax, not realizing how out of sorts he was feeling until that moment.

“As fun as it is to watch you two engaged dudes kiss, can we eat now?” Barry spoke up and Harry sighed heavily, rolling his eyes as he and Ramon separated. Everyone else laughed lightly except for Caitlin and Ronnie who both gaped lightly at Harry and Cisco.

“Nu uh.” Caitlin said almost too loudly, eyes darting between them.

“Uh huh.” Jesse countered, “Cisco’s got a ring and everything, though I’m still not clear on how that worked out considering he’s the one who asked Dad.” Caitlin’s eyes started sparkling again, and she put a hand on her mouth before hurrying back over to them and nearly tackling them in a combined hug. Ronnie grinned from where he sat.

“Congrats, you two!” Ronnie said happily. Harry steadied Caitlin, Cisco wrapping his arms around her.

“You both have to promise me one thing.” Caitlin pulled back, wiping at her wet eyes. Then she pointed at them in turn, “Mirabelle gets to be the flower girl.” Cisco grinned and reached up, wiping at her cheek.

“She’s not even going to be walking by then.” He said gently.

“Barry can push her in a stroller.” Iris offered. “He’d make a great flower girl chaperone.”

“Awe, man. I wanted to be a bridesmaid.” He pouted a little. They all laughed. And Harry felt Cisco’s hand slip into his, fingers entwining.

“You’re lucky they’re trusting you with their kid.” Joe pointed at him, then popped open one of the pizza boxes. “We all know how clumsy you are.”

“I think Jesse is giving him a run for his money. You should have seen the kitchen when we got here.” Iris said, grabbing a slice and plopping it on her paper plate. And just like that, they were all sharing a meal. Harry and Cisco sat side by side, everyone talked and laughed. When Mirabelle woke, she got passed around and adored. They shared each other’s company for close to two hours, welcoming Mirabelle into their world. Then as the sun set, they started making their way out until Harry closed the door behind Joe and locked it. Then he stood there with his hand on the doorframe, looking around quietly. The house didn’t feel empty, even now, which was a delightful revelation. Cisco was watching him, leaning his back against the wall that split the kitchen from the hallway.

“Are you tired?” Ramon asked him, and Harry dropped his hand, shaking his head. “Good.” They stared at each other in the quiet, and Harry felt like he was being pulled by strings. He loved the feel of it, as though something connected him to Ramon at all times. And all Cisco had to do was look at him like that to enthrall him. His stare was as magical as the rest of him. Harry stopped right before him, slipping his fingers directly into Ramon’s hair. Cisco closed his eyes briefly, coming away from the wall and leaning into Harry’s frame. His arms came up around Harry’s waist and his hands clasped at his lower back as he rested his head on Harry’s shoulder. Harry sighed softly, wrapping his arms around him.

“Hold me close and hold me fast, the magic spell you cast is la vie en rose.” Ramon began to sing softly, and Harry’s heart stuttered. It was such a simple thing… his voice calm, even delicate. “When you kiss me heaven sighs, and though I close my eyes, I see la vie en rose.” Harry’s eyes shut and he turned his face down into Cisco’s hair, breathing him in. He’d never heard him sing before, and even without music in the background, the sound of it was enough to settle every disquieted thing in his head. How had he not known that Ramon’s voice was so pure? “When you press me to your heart, I’m in a world apart. A world where roses bloom.” Cisco turned his face into Harry, kissing his throat softly. “And when you speak, angels sing from above. Everyday words seem to turn into love songs.” Ramon pulled back enough to look at him. “Give your heart and soul to me, and life will always be… la vie en rose.”

“I was right.” Harry whispered, “You are my solace.” Cisco smiled sweetly, then kissed him gently.

“I can’t wait to marry you.”

“We’re going to dance to that song on our wedding day.” Harry affirmed and Cisco teetered his head back where it was, lips pressing into Harry’s throat again. “Never stop singing for me, Ramon. Please.”

“I’ll sing for you every day if that’s what you want.”

“That’s a genius idea. I’m glad you thought of it.” He smiled and Cisco chuckled a little. Truthfully, Harry wanted everything with Cisco Ramon. He wanted to make love in every room of the house, and laugh with Ramon and Jesse in the kitchen, and eat dinner with their family at the table. He wanted everything, every day, for the rest of their lives. Harry swayed him softly. “Today was a good day.”

“The best day.” He sighed against Harry’s throat. “It’s not over yet, honey.”

“What do you want to do now?”

“I’m thinking… sweatpants added to some serious cuddling while watching a movie in bed.” Cisco pulled back and reached out, flipping the light switches on the wall, darkening the main rooms. “Mess can wait till tomorrow. Come be lazy with me.” He hooked a finger into Harry’s belt loop and pulled.

“Yes sir.” Harry smiled, following Cisco to their room.

He'd never felt more at peace.

Chapter 41: “You’ve been here since last night?”

Chapter Text

The rest of the week and then Saturday went by without incident. It was a steady rotation of work, home, work, home, and doing it all over again. But Cisco didn’t find any monotony in it. Even when Harry ended up working late, Cisco still found himself as a willing participant in midnight drives home, and early morning drives back to work. Nothing seemed to be bringing his happy high down, not even on Sunday, when Harry had spent nearly the entire day in his home office. Cisco had known Harry was a workaholic, and he had already really been cutting his hours down for Cisco’s sake. But when Monday morning rolled around, he hadn’t expected to wake up to an empty bedroom. There was no sign of Harry anywhere. And for a moment, he was really confused.

Had Harry even come to bed last night?

He blinked at the vacant space beside him before lifting his head a little to look at the digital clock on the nightstand. It was almost eight. Wait… what? Cisco pushed himself up, looking around, rubbing the sleep out of one eye. Molly was lying in the sunlight that shone through the sliding glass door. The tv was still on the same channel Cisco had left it on when he’d fallen asleep, the volume barely audibly playing on some sort of rerun. Everything else was very quiet.

Cisco pulled the covers off, stretching as he stood, going straight to the bathroom as he attempted to get his brain to wake up. It didn’t take him long to take care of business, brush his teeth and hair, and come back out. And now that he wasn’t lost in the haze of sleep, he could see the morning clearly.

Harry really hadn’t come to bed last night. And they should have left for work at six. So… where was he?

Cisco roamed out into the hallway, stopping by Harry’s open office door. Everything was off. No lights, his computer shut down. Huh. He dragged his fingers through his hair, feeling something solid and confusing settling in his gut. It felt like anxiety. Worry. Laced with the softest touch of fear. His eyes roamed to shadows, the dull corners of a room untouched but still feeling like maybe something had been left behind. Something ominous, as ridiculous as it seemed. He swore he saw those shadows move, in the shapes of hands reaching for him… just like he used to after Brian had almost killed him. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment to steel himself, then turned quickly back out to the hall and toward the main part of the house. But everything was just as quiet. And that made his heart leap a little.

“Harry?” He called out loudly, enough to be heard from anywhere in the house. He waited a beat. Nothing. Not a goddamn thing. “Hey, Harry!” He called out a little louder, feeling frustration mingle with his anxiety. Harry wouldn’t just leave without telling him. He wouldn’t just-

The sound of the back door opening made him whirl around and move back to the hallway, just in time to see Harry walk in with an empty coffee cup in one hand… and Tess right behind him. She had an empty coffee cup, too. And she said something that made them both chuckle. But when Harry reached around her to shut the door and she saw Cisco, she stopped in place, mouth opening a little and brows lifting.

“Ramon,” Harry said with a soft, very real, fond smile that Cisco recognized right away. “You’re awake.” He moved past Tess as though she wasn’t standing right there staring at Cisco like he was somehow the intruder in this scenario. Or maybe that was his own imagination running away with him because of whatever this situation was. Harry stopped before him, still smiling impossibly soft. “Good morning.” He said, leaning in and placing a chaste kiss on his lips. “I made coffee, if you’d like some.” Coffee. Right. He’d smelled that just a moment ago… hadn’t he? He looked down at Harry’s mug, then back at him. Harry looked confused. “Are you alright?”

“Hm?” Cisco asked, then shook his head. “Oh, yeah, I’m… I’m good. Still a little sleepy, I guess.” He managed, watching as Tess appeared beside Harry, giving him a very soft smile of her own. Cisco had to admit, she was… beautiful. Like something out of a magazine. She was a little taller than Cisco, with honey blond hair that sat in waves down to her lower back and the same gorgeous green eyes as Jesse, but framed in soft laugh lines. Her perfectly manicured hands were wrapped delicately around the empty coffee mug in her grip, and she was wearing black leggings with brown knee high boots and a sleeveless white blouse that flowed past her slender hips. Her features were somehow strong and supermodel delicate at the same time. Cisco felt like a dumpster gremlin in comparison. “Um…” he cleared his throat a little, taking a slow step back. “Hi?” He couldn’t help how awkward he felt. And he could see right away that Harry noticed. And it confused the taller man.

“Good morning, Mr. Ramon.” She said gently. “Or do you prefer Cisco?” She extended a hand to him. And for far longer than cordiality allowed, he was staring at it. As though he’d forgotten what a handshake was. But then he cleared his throat to snap himself out of it, and took her hand, shaking lightly.

“Cisco’s fine.” He said, pulling his hand back when she let go and fighting the urge to smooth his palm over his shirt. Not because her hand had felt bad, but because he had no idea what he should be doing right now. To say he was more than a little blindsided was a bit of an understatement.

“Goodness, you must be so confused.” She said before reaching out and gently gripping his arm. Was she always this tactile? “I’m Tess. Which… I think you know that already. Of course you do.” She huffed a small sound, smile spreading. “I’m very happy to meet you. You must be wondering why I’m here, though.” She nodded, as though affirming her own thoughts.

“Yeah, I guess I am.” He nodded back, looking at Harry who reached out and plucked Tess’ empty mug from her hand and moved away from them both like this was absolutely no big deal. But this was a big deal, right? For so many reasons.

“I stopped by last night, I think it was close to ten. Harrison said you were asleep, and that he didn’t want to disturb you.” She said nonchalantly, dropping her hand and clasping both lazily in front of her.

“You’ve been here since last night?” He asked, brows furrowing. He heard the mugs being set in the sink and the water turned on for a moment. But he couldn’t stop looking at her.

“Yes,” She said, “I think we got a bit carried away. We didn’t realize what time it was until a few minutes ago.” But as she said it, a realization seemed to come over her. Cisco wasn’t sure what expression he was wearing, but he knew whatever ‘oh no’ moment she was having had something to do with the completely flummoxed feeling he was no doubt showing. Harry had been talking to her all night, to the point he hadn’t even gone to work this morning? Why did that make Cisco feel… “Oh, oh no. I didn’t mean to insinuate that… Cisco, we didn’t-“

“Nothing happened.” Harry said firmly from behind Cisco, which made him breathe out heavily and turn to look at him. He was leaning against the wall, watching him with his arms crossed lazily in that habitual way of his. “We’ve been talking. About everything. About Jesse and you.” He nodded in his direction.

“Me…”

“Yes.” Harry said, studying his expression, Harry’s own brows tightening. “She called me because Jesse messaged her. Tess wanted advice.”

“I admit, I was a bit… overwhelmed.” Tess added, “I didn’t know what to do. And Harrison agreed to see me.” She was smiling at Harry as though he were literally the sun, and she was seeing him for the first time. Well, f*ck.

“I wasn’t going to leave you alone.” Harry continued, never taking his eyes off Cisco, as though he had no idea she was looking at him that way. “So I told her to come. Jesse has agreed to meet with Tess next weekend. She asked about the things she’s missed in Jesse’s life.” He finally glanced at her. “And then I told her about you.” He looked back at Cisco, eyes still so goddamn fond despite the strangely blank expression on his face. “We didn’t plan on talking this long, Ramon.”

“Truly.” Tess nodded. “And I wish I could stay to talk longer, with you.” She motioned at Cisco, smiling so lovely. “But I do have to get to work. It wouldn’t look good to be late on my first full day.” She stepped past him, moving toward the foyer. Harry turned away from the wall without uncrossing his arms, watching her as she grabbed her jacket and her purse. She hooked both over her arm and reached for the door, looking back at them both. Cisco swore he saw something so very deeply sad settle into her eyes, for the briefest moment. Then she smiled again. “It was good to see you, Harrison. And… very good to meet you, Cisco.” And with that, she opened the door and stepped outside, closing it with a light click behind her.

Cisco let the air out of his lungs, feeling his limbs buzzing a little as Harry finally turned back around and stared at him. And Cisco didn’t know what to say or to feel other than really, really… wound up. For no reason. All of that was completely innocent, wasn’t it? So why did Cisco feel…

Holy sh*t, he felt jealous.

His brows lifted at his own realization and he tore his eyes away, staring down at the floor quietly.

“You look angry.”

“I’m not-“ He instantly tried to defend, then swallowed and looked back at him. “I’m not angry.” He said softer, “I’m just… confused, and maybe a little, uh…” he shrugged, and Harry’s too damn intelligent eyes moved over his form. Finally, his expression took on something Cisco could read. Humor.

“You’re jealous?” He asked, dropping his arms. And he smiled, so beautifully.

“Nu uh, no.” Cisco pointed at him, feeling some of the tension ease at Harry’s reaction. “That’s not fair. You don’t get to do that.”

“Do what?” Harry sauntered over to him, hands immediately molding around Cisco’s hips.

“Figure me out so quick.” He groused, crossing his arms and refusing to touch him back. But he didn’t pull away. “I didn’t even figure it out that fast.”

“Well, to be fair, you’re not in love with you.” He tucked Cisco close. “I am.” He searched Cisco’s eyes, “And you have nothing to be jealous about. I didn’t ask her to come because I wanted her to. I asked her to come because Jesse needs this, and… like I said… I wasn’t going to leave you alone.” Cisco deflated immediately, closing his eyes and letting his head fall to Harry’s shoulder, face first. “Are you sure that’s all it is?” He asked lightly. Cisco unfolded his arms and slid both around Harry’s frame. No, that wasn’t all it was. He still had that leftover taste of fear in his throat, the image of those shadows reaching for him making him cringe.

“It’s stupid.” He mumbled. He felt Harry’s lips press into the top of his head.

“It isn’t if it’s bothering you.” He assured. And Cisco tightened his arms.

“I… got scared for a second there. When I woke up and you weren’t there.” He lifted his head slowly, looking at Harry’s brilliant blues moving over his darker eyes. “You didn't come to bed and everything was quiet and…” his voice trailed off. Harry nodded gently.

“And you thought something might’ve happened to me.” Harry lifted a hand, curling his finger beneath Cisco’s chin, tilting his gaze a little higher. “That’s not stupid. I’m sorry for scaring you, beautiful. I thought…” he sighed, moving his hand to Cisco’s forehead, sweeping his hair gently away. “I didn’t want to wake you up. You needed the sleep. And I didn’t stop to think about how you would feel waking up like this. I’m sorry.”

“You’re sorry…” Cisco whispered, then shook his head. “You didn’t do anything wrong, Harry.” Harry gave one slow nod, like he didn’t quite believe it.

“I’ll tell you what…” He held Cisco in both arms, swaying him almost instantly, just enough. “We’ll take today off. I’ve been straight out for a while, and you’ve been keeping up pretty well. But with how hard you crashed last night, a day off might be what we both need.” Cisco frowned at him.

“Why are you being so nice? I just had a little-kid scare when you weren’t there and probably weirded your ex right out, and you’re being nice.”

“Honestly… you looked more weirded out than she did.” Harry smirked.

“No.” Cisco glared a little, then squinted. “Maybe.” Harry gave him a knowing look. “Okay, yes. But you have to admit, that was not what I would ever expect to see first thing in the morning.”

“True.” Harry nodded. “I didn’t mean to blindside you with it. I honestly thought she’d have been gone long before now. But…” he sighed gently, eyes roaming quietly, thoughts spinning circles in his eyes. “It was a lot, Ramon. She was.”

“A lot in a good way or a bad way?” Cisco asked softly, and Harry shrugged.

“Both. Seeing her is hard. I have this knee-jerk reaction to just push her as far away from myself as possible. I don’t know if it’s to protect myself or to keep myself from doing what’s necessary. Listening to her was even harder, at first.” He stepped back a little, then took Cisco’s hand, leading him into the kitchen. He motioned for him to sit at the counter. “She told me about the years… about getting sober, and rebuilding her career. About not coming back before because she didn’t want to ruin Jesse’s life.” He poured a cup of coffee, grabbing the creamer and sugar, stirring in the right amount before setting the mug down in front of Cisco. “Coming back now, working at CCU… it wasn’t because she wanted to upend things or make life difficult for Jesse and me. She just wants to keep moving on with her life.”

“I get that.” He said, wrapping both hands around the warm mug. “But the moment she came back, she told you she wanted to be in Jesse’s life again. So working at CCU isn’t the only reason she’s here.”

“No, it isn’t.” Harry relaxed against the back counter, slipping his hands into his pockets. “She talked about… making amends. It’s something she learned in AA. She wants to apologize to Jesse, to explain everything to her face to face, even if it doesn’t fix anything. She wants to try.”

“Did she apologize to you?” Cisco asked, feeling like Harry was holding something back. And Harry’s jaw clenched before he sighed through his nostrils and looked directly at him.

“She did. And I forgave her. I did a long time ago. But I think she needed to hear it face to face. And I think… I needed to apologize to her, too.”

“Did you?” Cisco straightened a little.

“Yes. For… holding on to my grief and anger for so long.” He smiled a little. “Which led me to telling her all about how I found you. And how much you’ve changed things for me, for the better.” He pushed forward, then leaned his forearms into the counter Cisco was sitting at, clasping his hands lazily and watching him. “She’s got a lot of regrets. I have my own fair share. But… everything that happened led me to you, Ramon. I wouldn’t change a thing. And you have nothing to worry about.”

“You didn’t see…” He whispered, then swallowed, feeling anxiety bubble back into his chest as he looked back down. “You didn’t see how she looked at you.”

“I saw.” Harry said gently back. “I didn’t care.” Cisco looked back at him and saw that same fondness he was so endlessly enamored with. “I loved her once, Ramon. I won’t deny that. Part of me always will. It wasn’t always bad, and we have a daughter together.” He reached out and curled his fingers around Cisco’s wrist. “That being said… nothing I felt for her even compares to what I feel for you. My present, and my future, all belong to you. I love you now, I’ll love you twenty years from now. I chose you, and you chose me. And there’s nothing anyone can say or do that will change that.”

Cisco stared at him. He studied the laugh lines by his exotic blue eyes, the relaxed dimples in his cheeks, the sharp cut of his jaw, the ease of his mouth. There was always an intensity even to his softest expressions, as though what he felt and knew and thought were far too extreme to lessen by dulling his outward appearance. And when he looked at Cisco, like he was looking at him now, Cisco felt a bit like he was being memorized, every breath and micro expression stored away for Harry to recall whenever he wanted. He never looked at other people like that. Instead, he always looked like he was sizing everyone around him up for some sort of fight. But with Cisco…

“I love you, too, Harry.” Cisco finally managed. And he watched as the deep currents in Harry’s eyes shifted blues.

“Drink your coffee. I’ll make you breakfast.” Harry winked at him, standing back up and moving to the fridge. Cisco looked down into his mug, realizing the last of his anxiety was completely gone. And it was all Harry’s fault. He smiled as he lifted the cup to his lips, then took a long sip as he watched Harry pull out eggs and sausage and cheddar.

“Aren’t you tired?” Cisco asked, settling more into his seat, relaxing his forearms into the countertop. Harry smirked a little, glancing at him.

“I’m a great many things. Tired is not one of them. Though I’m sure you can rectify that for me later.”

Cisco grinned, then shook his head.

Yeah, waking up alone and seeing Tess this morning had thrown him for a bit of a loop. But Harry was still there. He was still right there. And Cisco felt like everything was going to be okay, one way or another. Harry was entirely to blame…

* * *

Tess pulled the car over into the wide shoulder of the main road, putting it in park and closing her eyes as she gripped the steering wheel. She focused on breathing. In and out. In and out. She could feel her eyes burning, practically begging her to let the tears loose.

“f*ck.” She swore shakily, flexing her fingers around the cold leather.

None of this made sense.

It had been seventeen years of time and space and absence. So why had she felt like having Harrison so close was torture? Why had she wanted to feel his arms around her, to experience his touch, his kiss? Why did seeing Harrison with Cisco feel like a betrayal? And Cisco didn’t deserve that. She could see how much he felt for Harrison… and how much Harrison felt for him. She’d sat there and listened to him talk about Cisco in a way that was beautiful and heartbreaking. The idea that Harrison could love him so much was wonderful, it should be. But it had made her feel broken in a way she couldn’t explain.

She’d been the one to ruin everything. The one who had drowned them in an ocean of alcohol and depression, the one who’d left Harrison to raise their daughter completely alone. She’d been the one to destroy what could have been. At the very least, she should be ecstatic that Harrison had found someone to make him as happy as she should have.

But as much as she wished she could just be happy for them both, she wished Cisco wasn’t in his life. Because part of her had always hoped that maybe she might get another chance.

It was foolish. Childish, even. But she had spent so much time over the years trying to find something even close to what she’d had with Harrison. No one else compared, no one else measured up. Which meant none of her attempts at relationships ever worked out. Some part of her would always belong to Harrison Wells. And that truth was far more apparent now than it had ever been before.

The very sudden impulse to drive to the nearest liquor store settled into her subconscious.

She recognized it instantly. She’d taught herself how to overcome the need over the years. And she opened her eyes, heaving a breath, looking around in the quiet of her car. No, she couldn’t do that. She wouldn’t. No matter how strong the urge was. She needed to get to work. She needed to focus on what she could control. She grabbed her phone, pressing the first name in her saved contacts. It connected to the Bluetooth and started dialing, and she took the car out of park as she waited for her sponsor to pick up.

She was going to get through this. She was going to make it through the day. And she was going to take all the advice Harrison had given her for Jesse and use it. She could be happy for her ex husband, and she could learn to be his friend and nothing more. For his sake. And for her own.

‘Hi, Tess. Everything okay?’

“Thanks for picking up. Do you have a minute?”

‘Always.’

And she told her sponsor everything as she drove to CCU…

Chapter 42: “You’re really enjoying this.”

Chapter Text

“I want to do something…” Harry heard Ramon say as he came outside.

Harry had already cleaned up the kitchen after cooking, Cisco had eaten, and had gone to get dressed. Harry had gone out to the deck connected to their bedroom, sitting on the large cushioned wicker chair in the corner to watch the clouded sky to deal with his rampaging thoughts.

Thoughts about Tess and Jesse and Ramon, about the accelerator and Reed and the labs. Just so many goddamn thoughts. He was admittedly feeling a little overwhelmed, a bit more than out of his depth. And it was all because of Tess. Seeing her, talking with her straight through the night, had almost been easy. And simultaneously torturous. Not because of any attraction, like Ramon had thought. And honestly, Harry couldn’t blame him for thinking that. It was more out of the fact that when he interacted with her, all he saw and felt was his own unresolved anger. Which wasn’t fair to her.

So he’d stifled it and focused on what Jesse needed. He’d seen the way she was looking at him, so he also made it very clear that what he had with Ramon was never going to change. Harry and Tess had their chance, once upon a time. Now he had Ramon, and he was never letting go. Something of which he could tell Tess was not completely accepting of. Though that thought fizzled and sparked right out of existence the moment Cisco had spoken, because Harry’s eyes went right to him… and couldn’t move away.

Ramon had walked outside completely nude, sauntering right over to him, hovering when he got there, already delightfully hard and something incredibly alluring settled into his gaze. And Harry’s hands gripped the arms of the chair instantly, eyes probably a little wide and expression stunned, which Cisco seemed to find amusing because he smiled like that was the exact reaction he was hoping for.

He leaned forward, planting his hands to the back of the chair, then kneeled into the cushion to either side of Harry’s thighs, effectively sitting right in his lap. Harry inhaled, eyes roaming over him, hands releasing the chair with a slight crack of his knuckles before he slid both hands over Cisco’s hips, fingers sliding slightly onto his rear. He dragged his stare back up to Ramon’s beautiful amber-flecked browns, watching him smile impossibly light.

“Talk me through it.” Cisco said, tilting his head a little, his right hand moving to Harry’s hair, fingers gliding through the unruly strands before his fingertips pressed into the curve of Harry’s jaw, down to his neck, over the pulse in his throat. “Through… what you like, and how you like it.”

Right away, Harry knew what he was inferring. And he licked his lips, his own chest heaving as his grip got somewhat tighter. He could hardly believe Cisco was sitting out here, completely bare, and completely comfortable with it, offering to learn how to give Harry pleasure by inflicting pain. Was this a dream? Had he fallen asleep in this chair? Ramon’s smile turned sly.

“I mean, I have an idea. Of some things to do…” He pressed his thumb right where Harry’s throat connected to his jaw, a pressure point that was more than enough to make Harry’s head relax back and his eyes flutter, his steadily hardening dick tightening in his jeans. Holy f*ck. “Wow.” Cisco whispered, and Harry felt his other hand come up to mimic the other, his thumb pressing into the mirrored spot. And Harry’s fingers dug into Cisco’s flesh, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallowed hard. Cisco gently released the pressure and Harry panted out, eyes opening wide again. “You weren’t kidding when you said you liked-“ Harry cut him off with a kiss, surging forward and taking his mouth with his own, tongue diving in instantly.

Ramon moaned long and wanting, hands digging firmly into Harry’s hair. The kiss was hard and verging on the boundary of too rough, but Cisco gave into it before he yanked Harry’s head back, taking his damn addictive mouth away.

“f*ck, Ramon…” Harry growled, eyes rolling shut. Cisco pressed their foreheads together. “You’re going to give me a stroke.” Ramon chuckled, taking one hand out of his hair. He felt his hand almost immediately begin to grope Harry through his jeans.

“Might be worth it?” Cisco made it a question, starting to undo Harry’s pants.

“It absolutely will.”

“Good. So… talk me through it. Tell me what you want me to do.”

“Get me out of these f*cking jeans.” Harry damn near ordered. And Cisco smiled against his mouth before kissing him, this time soothing and slow, his tongue so deep in Harry’s mouth that he thought maybe Harry ended and began with him. Then he pushed off, letting Harry grip the arms of the chair again. Harry lifted his hips and Ramon yanked his jeans off, pulling them down quickly, forcing Harry’s legs out one at a time. Then he relaxed back into the chair, the cushion feeling slightly scratchy against his skin from years of exposure to the weather. He yanked his own shirt off, matching them in nudity, uncaring about any possible chance that someone could see. They were in the middle of nowhere, and their cop babysitters didn’t come near the house unless they had to.

“Can I taste you? Hard?” Cisco asked, hands flexing at his sides. And Harry breathed out, nodding wordlessly. Ramon nodded back, bending over and pressing his palms into the cushion beside Harry’s hips. He wasted no time bringing his mouth straight for Harry’s throat. And at first, his exploration was soft. Lips and tongue working against his pulse, sucking at the vein there. Harry closed his eyes and relaxed, his hand coming forward without looking to smooth over Ramon’s co*ck. Instantly, that gentle suckling turned into teeth creating a seal, slightly sharp and definitely enough to leave one hell of a hickey when all was said and done.

Harry kept himself focused, as calm as he could manage as he relaxed even further into the feel of Ramon’s mouth on him and his own hand around Cisco’s hardness. He pumped and stroked him while Ramon began to wander lower, to his shoulder, then to his collarbone. And he bit down without warning, making Harry tense and moan at the delightful way it hurt. Oh, f*ck, was it good. His free hand came up and curled into Ramon’s long black strands, careful not to grip, only offering encouragement.

“God, you’re so reactive…” Ramon mumbled, crouching. Harry had to let him go. He felt Cisco’s hands hold to his ribs, his tongue circling around Harry’s nipple before drawing it in between teeth. The instant sharpness made Harry moan unsubtly, and he held onto Ramon’s shoulders. That was when he felt Cisco’s nails dig in, scraping over his ribcage like he was trying to get to the bones beneath. Harry’s hips instantly bucked, and Cisco’s mouth came away from his nipple. “This is amazing.” He whispered, sounding damn near awed. “Why didn’t you tell me you were this sensitive?”

“I’m…” he breathed out, opening his eyes and swallowing, “I’m only like this when I want it.” He stared down at Ramon, watching as his fingers now gently smoothed over the glaring red marks he’d made, causing a soft burn. “I want this so f*cking badly right now. I’ve wanted this for a while.”

“I should have done this sooner.” Cisco said seriously, making eye contact as he knelt completely between Harry’s spread legs. “I’m sorry I haven’t.”

“You don’t need to be.” Harry assured, smoothing both hands into his hair. “It’s not something you’ve done before. I… I meant what I said, that you don’t have to.”

“Oh, I know.” Ramon smiled, looking over Harry’s flushed body. “I really f*cking want to. For both of us. And when I’m done, you’re going to return the favor.” Before Harry could even respond, Cisco’s mouth came down right over Harry’s dick. That made Harry grind his mouth shut. Ramon wasn’t rough about this, but he was absolutely thorough. He used lips, teeth, tongue, and throat while sliding his hands over Harry’s torso in torturous sweeps. And he took his time, knowing Harry well enough by now to take him just to the threshold of coming undone. When he pulled off, he turned his face into Harry’s thigh, inhaling, nuzzling, right before he sealed his mouth around Harry’s flesh and ground his teeth down.

Harry brought his own hands up to his forehead, eyes squeezed shut as his groin tightened impossibly hard, a low sound humming its way out of his throat. Cisco was definitely leaving his mark, and learning fast. Because there wasn’t anything in Harry that wasn’t completely gone on this attention. So much so that he had to quickly reach back down and grab Cisco’s hair.

“Stop, stop…” he panted out, nearly curling over into him. Ramon’s mouth came away, eyes blinking at him in confusion. “You’re gonna make me come.” He explained, swallowing and pressing his head into Cisco’s. “Not yet, please, not yet…” he closed his eyes, aware his voice was wrecked, concentrating on pulling his need back, refusing to give in to the relentless pressure that had built lightning fast in his groin. He felt Ramon breathe heavily, then shake his head a little, forcing Harry to lift his.

“Take a minute…” Cisco said gently, and Harry could hear the satisfaction in his voice, as though he’d discovered some sort of power he hadn’t had before. And f*ck… the sound of that was intoxicating. “You’re really enjoying this.” Ramon rose up on his knees, gripping Harry’s hips softly, just before he kissed him. Delightfully slow, tongues tasting in delicate sweeps, lips working tenderly. It eased the tension in his body, just enough. “How you look and sound… I wonder if that’s what I look and sound like.”

“I’ll compare it when you’re done with me.” He cracked a smile and Ramon chuckled. “What brought this about?” Harry asked, moving to the edge of the seat, pulling Cisco flush against him.

“You did.” He said easily, “Our talk the other day, about what you like and how you didn’t let yourself have any of it. And… this morning…” his eyes were wandering over Harry’s face, one hand smoothing over the scar at Harry’s back, the fingers of the other gently soothing the rawness of the scratches he’d made in Harry’s ribs. “When I got jealous, you didn’t use it against me. You did what you always do when I get a little crazy.”

“What’s that?”

“Comfort me. Make me feel like the center of the world. You’re always… giving.” Cisco sighed, and it seemed as gentle as the quality of his smile. “Giving and giving and giving. I need to catch up. I want to.” He kissed Harry again, tongue examining his own. Beat by beat, the kiss grew and evolved, both of them moving by some unspoken understanding that they were impossibly connected to each other and had been from the very start. Their bodies were equally known and somehow still worth exploring, learning, discovering. At some point, Cisco had maneuvered them both to the deck, till Harry was on his back and Ramon was straddling him, sitting with his eyes closed, both of their dicks in both of his hands, gripping them solidly and pulsing them with more than enough firmness. The stimulation was glorious, and the sight of Ramon’s tightened muscles above him enough to make Harry’s mouth go dry. He had his hands wrapped around Cisco’s thighs, holding on, needing the steadiness. Eventually, Ramon opened his eyes, looking down at him darkly.

“I’m going to grab a few things. Just… stay right there, just like that.” He breathed out, slowly releasing them before curling completely over and kissing Harry quickly. Then he stood and disappeared, and Harry closed his eyes with a heaved breath. His head was spinning a little. He was on the precipice of the high, the invisible universe of pleasure and pain waiting for him to be thrown past the barrier of control. He could feel the intensity of it along his edges, the burn in his ribs from Cisco’s nails, the throb in his thigh from Ramon’s teeth. He was so close to his breaking point that he knew it would take very little for Cisco to get him there. And he wanted that badly. He heard Ramon step back onto the deck, and he opened his eyes just as he knelt beside him.

He was quiet at first, cradling something in a long black silk bag in one hand, the bottle of lube in the other. And he was looking Harry over, eyes stopping at the mark on his throat, his shoulder, his ribs, his thigh. He watched a shiver race right through him as he exhaled and Harry reached for him with both hands. Ramon came willingly, putting the bag aside but keeping the lube, and he straddled Harry again, making them both gasp a little as he pressed himself down and joined his mouth back to Harry’s.

“I want you to stretch me.” Cisco spoke against his mouth, kissing him again and again after. Harry took the bottle from him, and Ramon practically got on all fours over him, refusing to disconnect their mouths for several beats. “Don’t take it slow or gentle. I need you to be fast about it.”

“I can do that.” Harry assured softly, one hand already reaching between them, fingers curling into Cisco’s balls. Ramon closed his eyes and inched forward a bit, so Harry didn’t have to strain. His hair hung loose around them, and he stayed hovered. Harry’s insides felt impossibly struck longing and demanding by the sight of him. He popped the cap on the lube, pouring some onto his fingers, getting them as slick as possible, then put a blob onto his fingertips, maneuvering two right to Cisco’s hole.

He massaged the lube into him, watching as Ramon swayed a little. He pressed his tips in, pushing against the resistance. Cisco’s jaw clenched, brows tightening. And Harry didn’t stop. Ramon had told him to be fast. To not be gentle. Of course, Harry wouldn’t do anything to truly hurt him. But he was going to follow orders to the letter. The tips of his fingers slid in and Cisco whined right away, his lower back curving at the feel of the stretch and burn he was no doubt experiencing.

“Like that, oh sh*t…” he muttered, eyes still closed. And Harry wasted no time, pushing them in more. Two fingers at once like this shouldn’t be ideal. In fact, it should have hurt like hell. But Ramon was remarkably relaxed into it, despite the way his expression shifted. “Yes, ah, please…” he whined, head hanging more. Harry began to pulse his fingers in and out, not completely sheathed, only about halfway, but enough to get his hole into working order. And he kept it up for a short while, until Ramon started to lift his head again, which Harry took as a cue to dive his fingers straight in. He buried them as deep into Cisco’s ass as he could. And Ramon cried out, arms shaking, face twisting. “f*ck, f*ck yes…” he swore, his voice strangled. And Harry sighed, his dick jumping, his groin tightening. Cisco was such a goddamn marvel.

Harry pulled his fingers out just long enough to add more lube, then slid them back in, pulsing and scissoring. Not hard, but fast enough to make Ramon whimper. Then he added a third finger, curling the second he had the chance. All three dove deep, massaging Cisco’s insides and making one of his arms give out. Harry’s free hand grabbed onto him, keeping him steady, stopping him from falling. But he didn’t give up the momentum. He kept going until Ramon was nearly hyperventilating.

“I gotta… I have to…” he sounded on the verge of sobbing, and he reached down and grabbed Harry’s wrist, tugging his fingers out before he got up on his knees and grabbed Harry’s dick. He wasted no time situation him right at Ramon’s hole, and Cisco lowered himself down in beats, head back and that sob finally escaping his throat. Harry’s own eyes squeezed shut, his hands grabbing roughly to Ramon’s hips, doing everything he could not to instantly thrust up. When he was fully sheathed into him, Cisco stopped moving. And Harry slowly opened his eyes, watching him as his own groin reminded him how wound he already was.

Ramon’s hands were in his hair, and a tear rolled down the side of his face. His eyes were closed and his dick was twitching randomly. And Harry had never seen anything so beautiful in his life. Slowly, Cisco dropped his hands to Harry’s stomach, and he heaved a breath as he opened his eyes, looking down at him heavy lidded and eyes shimmering. Neither of them said anything, and Harry wasn’t sure he could even if he had the ability. What could he possibly say to the sight and feel of all this?

“I’m going to give you what you want first…” Ramon licked his lips, sliding his hands over Harry’s chest. He maneuvered forward more and more till one hand was planted to the deck and his other was tracing feather soft over Harry’s throat. He took his time with this, examining Harry’s pulse points, the hollow of his throat, his Adam’s apple as he swallowed. “I don’t know how far is too far with this… so I’m going to start slow.” He kissed him chastely. “And if I go too far, grab my hair. Okay?” Harry wasn’t sure what he meant at first, until he felt Cisco’s strong hand grip his throat. Oh, f*ck. He nodded immediately, eyes rolling as he felt the first bit of pressure from Ramon’s fingers and palm begin to compress his airway.

Cisco shifted his hips, rising up and rolling back down, sliding Harry in and out of himself. It made him shutter a small sound, but somehow his hand stayed steady. And he began to build a rhythm with it. Of riding Harry’s dick, and bit by bit squeezing Harry’s throat. He never wavered. He never shook. Harry’s whole body began to tingle and light up all at once.

Harry needed this lack of control. It was encoded in his DNA, to give into Ramon this way. Giving Cisco this trust, allowing him this power play, was a release in itself. The dominance that Harry was forced to have in most aspects of his life was willingly placed into Cisco’s wonderful hands, and he couldn’t have expressed how exhilarating that made this. He’d had a taste of what it was like when Ramon had done his strip tease. But this was everything he’d denied himself for far too long, and he was so very glad it was happening.

As a scientist, he knew the physiological reasons for why this particular act felt amazing to him. The restriction of oxygen was only one part. With oxygen levels are low, he would get lightheaded and dizzy. Like he was starting to now. Between the rhythm of Cisco driving Harry’s shaft over and over again into himself, and the combined and growing pressure of Ramon’s hand softly strangling him, his lips and fingers began to tingle, a pressure began to pulse in his head, his groin felt heavy and slightly raw. It was f*cking amazing.

“You’re so…” Cisco panted, and Harry tried to open his eyes, but his lids barely rose halfway as Ramon drove himself back down on Harry’s co*ck and squeezed just a little tighter. Harry’s eyes rolled and his hands fell from Cisco’s thighs. “I don’t even have the word.” Ramon whimpered, and just as he slid himself back up, he simply let go of Harry’s throat, driving himself back down a moment later.

The moment the pressure released from his airpipe and oxygen and blood began to flow again, Harry felt a rush unlike anything he’d ever known anywhere else. It was a high so goddamn high, he’d hit the stratosphere in seconds. He knew it was caused by a release of dopamine, serotonin and endorphins triggered by the return of oxygen. It made his head spin, it made his lungs heave. But more than that, it made his back arch as his groin nearly punched his org*sm right out of him in retaliation for holding back as long as he had.

He cried out, his voice rough and strained, his hands coming back up to hold Cisco roughly down against himself. Seeing stars wasn’t just something people said. He was completely unaware of how hard he was holding Ramon down, or of anything else, really. He was trapped in a seclusion of pleasure that was not releasing him quickly. By the time his org*sm ended, he felt tingly head to toe. His back and thigh were throbbing in tune with his heartbeat, the scratches on his ribs were a-lit with fire that made him shudder out a breath. And his hands fell from Cisco heavily. He felt like he was teetering on the edge of consciousness, which wasn’t true. It couldn’t be, because he was thinking very clearly now despite the addled state of his brain only moments ago.

“Harry…” Ramon’s tone was half a question, and all concern. And Harry shook his head, licking his dry lips.

“I’m okay.” He whispered. “I n-need… just a moment…” he sighed out, his eyelids feeling far too heavy to open.

“Wow…” Ramon said, and not for the first time during all of this. “You’re high right now.”

“I absolutely am.” Harry agreed lazily, and Cisco chuckled, making himself clench around Harry’s very stimulated shaft. “Oh, don’t laugh. You’re gonna kill me.” Harry forced his eyes open with a smirk.

“I can’t help it.” Ramon chuckled again. “This is…” Cisco was hovering over him, smiling beautifully, “Well, now I know what I look like. It’s a good look.”

“Not even close. Because you look…” Harry exhaled deeply, “Infinitesimally more beautiful.” Ramon smiled wide, then carefully shifted his hips up, causing Harry’s steadily shrinking shaft to fall out of him. They both sighed at the loss, and Cisco lowered himself to his side, up close to Harry, leaning his elbow into the deck and resting his head in his palm. He was looking Harry over, sliding his fingers down Harry’s chest.

“Was it… really that good?” Ramon questioned, tracing softly around the scratches along his ribs.

“Absof*ckinglutely.” Harry said, and Cisco grinned, snorting a laugh before flopping his head forward onto Harry’s shoulder. He slid his hand up Ramon’s spine, then back down to his ass, smoothing over one cheek, trailing his fingers against his still wet hole. Instantly, Cisco shivered, drawing his head back up. “You haven’t gone.”

“I think I was too focused on you. And… I really wanted this for you.” He breathed out a little, closing his eyes as Harry curled the tips of his fingers into his very loose insides. “sh*t.” Cisco whispered, and his dick twitched against Harry’s side.

“Thank you, beautiful. But… it’s your turn now.” Harry nearly cooed, well aware of the relaxed and at ease quality of his voice. Ramon smiled knowingly, then opened his eyes. “What’s in the bag?” He questioned, motioning his head to Ramon, “Did you think I forgot?”

“You never do.” He smiled lovingly. Harry slipped his hand away as Ramon rolled onto his back, stretching out an arm to grab the silk bag. Then he scooted into Harry’s side, staying on his back as he rested his head in the place where Harry’s shoulder met his upper arm. He turned the bag in his hand and held it out. Harry took it with his free hand and instantly smiled when he felt what it was through the material.

“Where have you been hiding this?” He turned his face into Ramon’s hair, inhaling lightly. Cisco stretched his legs out, looking up at the gray sky.

“I sorta ordered it. It came in the mail yesterday. Mine is still sequestered in my police-taped apartment.” He mused. Harry nodded idly, then shifted his body, turning onto his side to look down at him. “I thought… maybe you’d-“

“I would absolutely love to use this on you.” He motioned the bag, leaning down right after and kissing him soothingly. Cisco melted completely, hands reaching for him.

“I know I keep saying this, but… wow.” Ramon looked almost shy. And Harry sat up carefully, still feeling a little blissed out. Which was a hell of a thing. He pulled the draw string on the silk bag.

“What’s ‘wow’ this time?” He asked, sliding the material down the dark blue prostate massager. It was soft, almost as silken as the bag was. It was as generic as they came, but had good weight to it. Harry turned it over in both hands, pressing the soft button at the end and turning it on. Its gentle vibrations were instant.

“You are. Most men I’ve been with didn’t like the idea of using toys like that on me. I think it’s viewed as emasculating, like… they should be able to get me off with just their own dicks, ya know?”

“Hm,” Harry slipped one hand between Ramon’s legs, curling his fingers beneath his balls and back inside his hole. He was dripping from Harry’s spunk, so it was still slightly slick. Cisco inhaled, eyes fluttering. “I don’t have that kind of ego. I’d prefer knowing you were able to enjoy yourself.” He shut the massager off for a moment, setting it onto Ramon’s stomach and grabbing the lube. He poured it over the toy, then he poured some into his hand by Cisco’s hole and began massaging the thick liquid into him. Ramon’s legs spread comfortably and his eyes closed completely. “Besides… it’s impossible for us both to go at the same time, every time. And I think…” He slipped his fingers out, grabbing the toy and smoothing the lube over it before turning it back on. Cisco opened his eyes heavily. “I’m going to enjoy this as much as you.”

Without asking, he slid the massager right into Ramon’s hole and pushed in. Instantly, Ramon’s mouth went slack and his back arched a little, one hand grasping at air and a punched out sound escaping his throat as Harry pushed it in as far as it could go.

“And that’s why.” Harry whispered at the sight of him. f*ck, he was beautiful. “You have no idea…” He shook his head, then began to work the toy in and out of him at an instantly steady pace.

“Oooo,” Ramon grabbed his own hair, “f*ck, Harry, please!” He was whining immediately. “Oh, harder. Faster, please!”

Harry did as he was asked, maneuvering himself between Cisco’s legs. He wanted to watch this, to witness every minute of Ramon’s undoing, and he had a brilliant idea of how to make it last longer. He sat crosslegged, and urged Ramon to relax his legs around him. He did so without question, and Harry watched his heaving breaths, picking up the pace on the toy a little more. The sound of it squishing in and out of Cisco’s gape was enough to make him wish he could get hard again. But this was hardly about him anymore. Ramon had given him everything he needed. Now he wanted to give it back in spades.

He hooked the thumb of his free hand beneath Cisco’s balls, tucking them up as he wrapped his fingers around his girth, effectively holding Ramon’s co*ck in a chokehold. Just tight enough to make Ramon writhe immediately.

“Oh, god, I can’t… oh god!” he was whimpering again, which made Harry smile. He was sure if one of those cops was loitering around out front, they’d hear the almost pained way Ramon was keening.

“Do you want me to stop?” Harry asked, giving the toy a good and hard shove, but stopping it there inside him, letting it vibrate unendingly against his walls. Cisco’s face crumpled, and he shook his head.

“No, no, don’t you dare, I-I… oh, I need it, I want to c-come.” He stammered, arching again as Harry dragged the toy out achingly slow. “It hurts… it hurts so good…” Ramon sobbed softly. And Harry felt a shiver run up his own spine. He went back to work without a second thought, taking Ramon to the edge of agony. It didn’t take long. Cisco had probably already been at his own edge when Harry had come earlier. And now here he was, taking more and begging for a release that Harry was denying him in his own choke hold.

It wasn’t till Cisco’s voice became ragged that he finally let his dick and balls go. And the result was Ramon shaking and arching, legs tightening impossibly around Harry’s form, his hands curling into fists and his eyes squeezing shut with a strangled sob that was almost like a scream coming out of his mouth as he came in spurts all over himself. Over and over, he released everything Harry had been keeping him from giving. And Harry pulled the toy out, careful not to wait, because he knew damn well that the second the high came down, Ramon was going to be spectacularly overstimulated.

Except what happened next was Cisco went slack, his expression softened as tears rolled out of his closed eyes. And he slumped into the deck, going completely still except for the slightly labored rise and fall of his chest. For a moment, Harry just stared at him. Then he chuckled. He couldn’t help it.

Because he'd just made Ramon pass out.

He set the toy aside and carefully extricated Cisco’s legs from himself before crawling over him. Then he lined himself up against him, softly turning his head to face him.

“Beautiful, open your eyes.” He said gently, smoothing Ramon’s tangled hair back before wiping the wetness from his eyes. “Look at me, Ramon.” He urged, still unable to stop himself from smiling. And suddenly, Cisco inhaled, body going rigid almost instantly. “It’s okay, you’re alright.” Harry assured, sliding his hand around Ramon’s ribs and holding him. Cisco huffed a few shaken breaths, blinking in confusion up at him, body trembling lightly. But then his eyes widened and he lifted his head enough to look down the length of himself and the mess now dabbling his abdomen.

“Oh my god.” He huffed, closing his eyes and plopping his head back lightly. “That did not just happen.”

“Oh, it did.” Harry nodded easily. Cisco opened his eyes again and gave him a rueful look.

“That’s so unfair. I was worried about making you pass out from asphyxiation and you go and… and…”

“Kept my promise?”

“Promise…?”

“f*ck you till you screamed.” Harry said bluntly and Cisco blinked hard at him. Then he just… laughed, wincing a little as he turned into Harry. That laugh turned into giggling, which didn’t seem to want to stop. And Harry was chuckling along, because it was ridiculous and perfect. Everything about Cisco Ramon was perfect. It took a minute or so before Ramon was eased completely into Harry’s hold, breathing easily and completely relaxed despite both of them still lying on a hard deck.

“I love you.” He said quietly, and Harry could hear very clear affection in his voice.

“I love you, too.” Harry responded without hesitation. “But if we don’t go in soon, we’re going to get soaked.” He glanced up at the sky. “It’s supposed to rain.”

“I don’t think I can get up.” Cisco said, amusem*nt still in his tone.

“I’d offer to carry you, but you turned me into pudding.” Harry remarked, and Cisco giggled again before he sighed and forced himself to sit up. Harry ran his hand down his spine before following suit, closing his eyes as his head spun a little.

“You think the cops heard us?” Ramon asked, turning onto his hands and knees before carefully reaching out for the chair, using it to help him stand up.

“I hope so.” Harry said, grabbing the low drink table and doing the same thing. He reached out to grab the railing, watching as Cisco swayed, a beautiful smile still set on his plush lips. “I’d love to see their faces when I explain how I made you pass out.”

“You would not.” Ramon deadpanned. “You would not!” He repeated, brows rising. “Harrison Wells.” He made his name a scolding, putting his hands on his bare hips. “You are going to keep all of that to yourself.” Harry grinned and moved over to him, smoothing his hands down Cisco’s arms.

“Only if I can do it to you again someday.” He said. And Ramon smiled sheepishly.

“Deal.” He rose up and kissed Harry sweetly.

It took some doing after that to grab their things and head inside, but only because both of them had pretty much become the consistency of cooked spaghetti. They were both feeling the after-aches, the soreness that came with rough play, and the definitive presence of bruised and scratched areas. They opted to shower together, and a fair amount of laughing ensued as neither one of them seemed to have great coordination. And as they got out, Cisco nearly fell over, landing ass first on the closed toilet, which only made them both laugh again. It was like they were a little drunk, still floating on a happy high that was a bit euphoric in its own right.

They opted for sweatpants and t-shirts, Ramon putting his hair up in a damp ponytail, and both of them having hot tea as they curled up together in the bed. It was barely late morning, but they had nowhere to be. Nothing urgent to tackle. No need to be anything but lazy. Cisco put on a movie about an AI that wanted to destroy humanity. And they spent the entire two hours commenting on scientific inaccuracies. But as the credits began to roll, Harry realized Ramon was sound asleep against him, completely cozy and looking soft, the edges of bliss still painted on his features. He gently stroked his face, then kissed his forehead before shutting the TV off and closing his own eyes.

“Thank you.” He whispered, letting his aching bones relax. He focused on the sting in his ribs and the bruised sensation on his thigh. He smiled at the still settled aftermath in his skin and the remnants of his own high that still seemed to linger in his tired mind. And he let himself drift to the sound of the rain outside and the feel of the man in his arms, content to be there in that slowness, in that state of no expectation, in that aftermath of pleasure. Ramon had gifted him something wonderful. He’d accepted him, and every bit of his rough parts. And he’d stepped out of his own comfort zone for Harry to do it.

Harry couldn’t fathom how he’d gotten this lucky, even knowing how many moving parts had gotten them there. But it didn’t matter. Not anymore. He was the luckiest man alive. And he wasn’t about to question it anymore.

Harry dreamed about the future… about them having their wedding in the Pipeline, the glow of the accelerator behind them, surrounded by their family and friends, lost on the happiness and love he saw all over Cisco’s face as they shared ‘I do’s’ and promised each other forever.

And Harry knew, as overly romantic as it seemed, some dreams were meant to come true…

The Ones Who Stay - QuietDarkness (2024)
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