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Boyfriends (of Doom) The Beginning

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“For the last time, there is no reason for you to be acting this way!” Eobard Thawne shouted, finally losing his temper. His partners had been pestering him for almost an hour and he was sick of it.

“You haven’t slept in no one knows how long because you don’t feel the need to provide us with that kind of information!” Malcolm Merlyn shouted back, hardly deterred by Eobard’s temper. “Do you even try to sleep? I’ve looked all over this lair and I can’t find any evidence that you even have a room!”

“Why does it matter? I am fully functional! You’re playing right into the orange person’s hands, getting involved like this. That book is going to cause you nothing but trouble!”

Eobard had to take a step back. He hated people getting into his personal space. It made him feel weird, like everything was suddenly operating at normal speed, rather than slowing to his heightened perception. Malcolm was too close, but as he stepped back, he knocked straight into Damien Darhk, who had been standing silently behind him.

He hadn’t noticed, which wasn’t a good sign. Letting a professional assassin stand unnoticed at his back was a good way to get even more dead than he was already.
Damien instantly steadied him. “Don’t go anywhere, Eobard,” he chided. “We still have questions for you. After the vault, you said we were going to be equals. How can we trust your word when you won’t trust us with the details of your basic functions?”

“After all, you claim to be the mastermind of this little adventure. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t very well do that,” Malcolm agreed, crossing his arms. As expected, he was holding the damn book in one hand.

Eobard badly wanted to use his speed to snatch the book and tear it up. It was bad enough his ancestor had to go and sterilize himself, leading to Eobard’s existence being erased from reality. On top of that, his ancestor went on to write a book, of all things, detailing his love life with the Flash and giving advice for other people to interact with speedsters. All his years of exacting research, undone by the personal recollections of the man who had effectively murdered him, based on the behavior of his most hated enemy. He hated that book.

He shrugged out of Damien’s arms and edged to the side, so that the three of them stood in a rough triangle. That was much better than being caught between them. He shook for a moment to make sure his senses were awake. Something about Damien catching him had dulled him for a second.

“What do you want to know?” he asked in a forced voice of calm. Maybe satisfying them would make them leave him alone.

“Where do you sleep? That’s an easy one to start you off,” Malcolm replied, getting smug look on his face.

Eobard briefly wondered if that smirk would stay put if he handed Malcolm his own intestines.

“Usually, at my desk. I work very hard and sometimes I just fall asleep over it. Next?”

Malcolm narrowed his eyes. “So you don’t have an official bed of your own?”

Eobard squirmed a little. That was true, but he had a feeling admitting it would send Malcolm through the roof. It would be amusing to watch him turn red and splutter, but he would only get more interfering when his blood pressure dropped again.

How could he explain the truth without sounding pathetic? He didn’t sleep much because it wasn’t restful. He was a speedster and lying still drove him crazy. Sleeping was nearly impossible, between his frenzied brain activity and the mysterious muscle cramps that plagued him if he was still for more than a few seconds.

“You could say that,” he finally said, plastering a fake smile on his face. It wasn’t a total admission, since his statement relied on Malcolm’s words rather than his own, and it would still answer the question. More or less.

Damien snickered. Eobard found himself oddly united with Malcolm, as they both shot him a dirty look.

“Don’t scowl at me,” Damien growled, instantly hitting murder-mode.

“Damien, you are not being very helpful,” Malcolm said, in the same forced voice of calm that Eobard had been using.

“How can I be helpful? Our scary speedster is acting like a naughty child and you are fitting yourself perfectly into the role of exasperated mother. If the Legends could see us, they’d laugh themselves sick.”

Eobard fantasized about throwing Damien on the floor and stomping on his throat a bunch of times. He was not acting like a child. He was acting like an adult faced with invasive and unwanted questioning.

“Need I remind you the handbook clearly states that speedsters require just as much sleep as everyone else? Eobard has been running himself into the ground and it is our responsibility as co-conspirators to keep him in good health. When I orchestrated the Undertaking, I kept a close eye on all the people who helped me, both to ensure their safety and to keep them from stabbing me in the back. That mentality will help us in this situation.”

“Except that your Undertaking only accomplished the death of your son and led to you fleeing a number of nasty ends,” Damien sneered.

Malcolm dropped The Care and Feeding of Your Speedster by E. Thawne on the desk and punched Damien in the face.

Eobard’s watch blared a warning that the Black Flash was getting close, so he left them to brawl it out and absorbed himself in the Speed Force.

Chapter Text

When he got back, there was no sign of either of them. The book was still on his desk and a few splatters of blood smeared the floor. He frowned at the empty room. There wasn’t enough blood to indicate one of them was dead, so they must be sulking in different areas of the lair.

Eobard sat back at his desk and tried to get back to work.

He couldn’t focus. The book kept drawing his attention and he knew that his nature wasn’t going to let him ignore it. Speedsters had a number of weaknesses, none of which he was prepared to share with his partners, and one of them was insatiable curiosity. Once something caught his attention, he had to lose interest again before he could focus on anything else.

He kept meaning to fix it, but he had been busy fighting the Flash, trying to get back to his own time, and trying desperately to restore his existence before the Black Flash caught up with him.

Although, if he was honest with himself, he didn’t have any idea how to address the problems the Speed Force had given him in return for his speed.

With a snarl, he snatched the book up. It was a professional-looking thing, though his brief research had told him his ancestor had put the whole thing together himself. There weren’t many copies. All of them had been jealously kept inside the West-Allen bloodline, to keep people from learning too much about speedsters and using that information to hurt them. He wasn’t sure this book had existed in his original timeline, since things had been changed.

Eobard supposed that meant returning home was going to be impossible. He’d wanted to for so long, but would it even be recognizable? His ancestor had inserted himself into the West-Allen bloodline and disrupted the course of history. Eobard’s entire family might not even exist.

That might be a relief. None of them understood the importance of what he had been doing. It was one of the reasons he had unlocked the secrets of time-travel to meet his idol rather than staying where those unsatisfactory fools could keep pestering him.

Eobard realized he was breathing heavily and gripping the book hard enough to make his fingers ache. That wouldn’t do at all. To distract himself and get the obsession off his mind, he opened the book and paged to the table of contents.

Random phrases jumped out at him. How to Help Your Speedster Deal with Stress. Speedsters and Sleep: A Rough Guide to a Big Area. Just How Much Did You Eat Again?!

Had his ancestor gotten into one of those strange moods where everything was funny and then written all his chapter headings? That was reading like the sappy self-help book he’d purchased for Caitlin after the accelerator explosion, to help her cope with her fiancé’s death. It hadn’t helped, but he had wanted to do something for her.

That was stupid. He snapped the book closed and dropped it on the desk. He was tired. Maybe he should stretch out on the couch for an hour or two and drive himself crazy in a different way. He might even doze off.

He took off his jacket and shoes, even though it was too cold in the lair for him to be comfortable without them. Eobard lay down and closed his eyes.

In about two seconds, the muscle twitches started. He was forced to constantly shift position to make them stop. It was hardly restful.

“Welcome back, Eobard,” Malcolm said unexpectedly. Eobard managed not to jump, but it was a close call. He had to stop getting distracted or those two were going to take advantage of it. He knew the League of Assassins didn’t train their people to ignore opportunities like the ones he kept offering.

“Thank you, Malcolm. I’ve decided to take your advice and get some sleep,” Eobard replied without opening his eyes. Maybe Malcolm would take the hint and go away.
There was a silence. Eobard wiggled around some more, feeling his skin start to itch from all the twitches.

“You know, the handbook says that it’s easier for a speedster to sleep if there’s someone with them. I’m willing to try it, if you are,” Malcolm said.

Eobard was forced to open his eyes to give the other man a surprised look.

“Are… are you inviting me to bed?” he asked hesitantly.

Malcolm didn’t bat a single eyelash. “In a manner of speaking. I was just offering to let you sleep, but if there’s anything else you have in mind, I won’t complain in the slightest.” He gave a cheeky grin at the same time that Eobard realized he was only wearing pajama bottoms.

The assassin had more scars than he had expected. He also had what appeared to be a series of bite marks across the right side of his chest.

Eobard felt his cheeks flame. Still, maybe it would be a good thing to accept one piece of his ancestor’s advice. Just one, because it was probably going to go badly for him.

He got up and followed Malcolm through the lair. Walking was boring, but he found himself unwilling to accelerate a situation that would end with him in bed- with Malcolm. Not to mention, what exactly had he been implying? Eobard’s impression of his little group was that they were holding together just long enough to achieve the ends each of them wanted. That didn’t leave much room for… flirtation.

It had been a long time since he was concerned about things like that. He had gone on a handful of dates as Harrison Wells, but being wheelchair-bound prevented much of anything coming from said dates. He had mainly used them as a means of encouraging rich women to support his project and female scientists to offer advice. Before Harrison, he had been too busy tracking down the Flash. Besides, his experience as a speedster had been even less enjoyable than before his transformation.

Why was he thinking about this? There was no way that he was ever going to climb into bed with Malcolm Merlyn at any other time than this one.

Malcolm opened the door for him, and Eobard stepped inside with a tight knot of unidentifiable unease in his gut. The room was black, like the rest of the lair, but Malcolm had added an abstract painting on the wall for a bit of color and an area rug under the bed to keep the floor from being quite so cold. Eobard avoided looking at the bed. He was starting to regret agreeing to this at all.

“Don’t be shy,” Malcolm said, and Eobard could just hear the mocking grin in his voice. Without giving him the satisfaction of looking at it, he slid himself into bed.
He found himself pressed against Damien Darhk, sound asleep on his stomach. That didn’t stop him from stirring and draping an arm across Eobard’s chest. He twitched away, accidentally using his speed and winding up teetering on the edge of the bed. Damien’s fingertips stayed on his hip.

“Sorry, I should have warned you, he’s a grabber,” Malcolm said, shoving him back into the middle and climbing in. Eobard found himself sandwiched between the two of them and rapidly losing his grip on the situation. Damien stirred again and hitched his arm more firmly across Eobard.

The speedster couldn’t help but notice the dark red abrasions that ringed his wrist.

“Damien takes things a little rough,” Malcolm said casually. “He also gets loud, so it’s probably for the best that you ran out when you did. Although, I find it hard to believe you haven’t noticed us carrying on before all this.”

Eobard wondered if it was possible to die from embarrassment. He certainly felt more mortified than he ever had in his life. It seemed like Malcolm expected him to say something, but Eobard honestly couldn’t force words out of his mouth.

“He’s different from Rebecca. I had to be so careful with her, to avoid hurting her. Damien doesn’t care. I wonder if it’s something the League made us or something that drew us there in the first place.”

Eobard was going to die. He was acutely aware of Damien’s arm across him, spreading warmth, and Malcolm pressed against his side, providing more of it. He was still wearing jeans, but he could feel Malcolm’s leg along the length of his, only separated by two thin layers of cloth.

“I wasn’t aware of any of this,” he finally forced out. “Honestly, I thought you disliked each other.” How could his voice sound so normal at a time like this?

“Don’t tell me the future forgot about hate sex,” Malcolm said in a tone of surprise. “Do you really think people like us could work together without some kind of outlet? Please. Damien and I would have killed each other weeks ago if I hadn’t come up with a better way. You should try it sometime. There’s something about intimacy that gives you an idea about who someone is that you can’t really get any other way.”

How could he get out of this? Eobard couldn’t have trapped himself more effectively if he had planned it out beforehand. There was no way to escape without using his speed and using it would lead to at least one furious assassin trying to kill him.

Against his will, he found himself relaxing. Malcolm might be embarrassing him to death, but it was warm in here and he wasn’t getting the evil muscle twitches.
He wiggled around a bit to get more comfortable and ended up on his side, facing Malcolm. That was the lesser of two evils, he had decided. If he turned his back on Malcolm, there was no telling what he would do. Damien was asleep and Eobard planned to be gone before he woke up. He hadn’t counted on Damien moving and molding himself against his back.

“Ah, is he wearing anything?” Eobard squeaked.

“Don’t think so.” Malcolm frowned at him. “Eobard, you’re not- are you a virgin?”

Well, that was the last of his dignity, down the drain and never to be seen again. Eobard pulled his section of the blanket up to his face, which felt like it was about to melt off.

“No! I’ve had- I’m not, okay? Why would you even ask something like that?!”

He could feel Malcolm shaking and it sounded like he was wheezing. Was he laughing?! He was and not doing a very good job of muffling it. Eobard couldn’t move away, so he was stuck waiting for Malcolm to get a hold of himself.

“I’ve never seen anyone get this flustered, Eobard,” Malcolm finally said, establishing some self-control. “I know you pride yourself on being a self-sufficient man of science and murder, but have you really ignored a basic reality of life? You’ve been away from the future for a long time, so why haven’t you done a bit of exploring in modern times? You must have had urges, even if you didn’t act on them.”

Eobard was going to kill him for this. There was no reason, none at all, for any of this to come up as a topic of conversation. It would have been awkward to end up in bed with both of them and not talk about it, but this was infinitely worse.

“I have spent most of my time either in a wheelchair or struggling to reverse my non-existence,” he said through gritted teeth. “There wasn’t a lot of time for hooking up.”

“Well, make time,” Malcolm said heartlessly. “There’s a lot of science that maybe doesn’t address the special needs of speedsters that still shows people need to have a healthy love life. Actually, I think there’s a chapter in the handbook. I haven’t gotten that far yet. You don’t have to make a lasting commitment, but you do need to take care of all your needs.”

There was a chapter in the handbook? He was going to rip it apart and blast it with lightning. The next place that book found itself was going to be an ocean trench, not his desk. Maybe he would even go back to Central City and kill Eddie Thawne personally.

He couldn’t do that. A paradox of that level would summon the Black Flash instantly and Eobard wouldn’t be able to escape. He would be completely erased from reality, rather than being the echo he currently was. Still, he was going to do something terrible to Malcolm’s copy of the book and hope it wouldn’t be replaced by the vindictive orange person.

Before he knew it, his thoughts of revenge had descended into strange dreams where he snatched the book from Malcolm and then Malcolm had it back in his hand and tapped it playfully on his head.

Chapter Text

He jerked awake when his watch went off. There was a brief moment to register an explosive swearword from behind him, then he took off.

By the time he got back to the lair, his feet ached, he was chilled to the bone, and the lair was filled with the evil scent of coffee.

“None for you, Eobard, I know what will happen,” Malcolm said, preemptively lifting his coffee mug over his head to keep Eobard from stealing it.

Eobard favored him with a particularly evil glare. “I know what it does, too. Believe me, it didn’t take long for a man of my intelligence to deduce the effect coffee was having on me.”

That had been a difficult blow to process. He still didn’t know why, but caffeine and sugar acted as relaxants for speedsters rather than stimulants. A normal cup of coffee would knock him out for hours.

Without saying another word, he got himself put back together and found a share of breakfast. There must have been a chapter in the book about the caloric needs of speedsters, because neither of them complained when he loaded his plate with six bagels, slathered toppings on them, and poured a large bowl of cereal for good measure.

“I have questions,” Damien said, fixing a stern look on his co-conspirators. “Clearly something happened, since I was rudely awakened by Eobard springing out of bed this morning. Has there been an adjustment of our partnership?”

Eobard almost choked on his bagel. He had been willing to forget all about what had happened last night, but now Damien had brought it up. He wasn’t going to take Malcolm’s side, was he?

“I convinced Eobard to get some sleep, nothing else,” Malcolm replied in a bored voice. “Given how he felt, I don’t think changing the deal is something you have to worry about, Dami.”

He had a cute nickname. Eobard was going to let the Black Flash catch him.

“I told you not to lay it on so thick, Mal. This is your fault,” Damien said, examining the back of his spoon.

Mal? If they tried to give him a nickname, Eobard was going to phase them both half-way into a wall.

“You’re welcome to do better,” Malcolm snapped.

“This entire operation was your idea, which means you can’t dump it on me. You were given the book, you actually care what happens, and you are the one with a chance of pulling it off.” Damien lost his look of indifference for a moment. “After all, Malcolm, you are much better with feelings and gaining the trust of others than I am.”

“You could do better if you tried,” Malcolm said, reaching across the table to briefly squeeze Damien’s hand.

Eobard stuffed the rest of the last bagel into his mouth and left the table, even though he had only eaten half of his cereal.

It was too bad they were avoiding the Legends, Eobard mused. Picking a fight with the Time Idiots would make him feel better after the weirdness Malcolm and Damien had put him through. He landed in a different time, he wasn’t sure where, and just walked. It annoyed him to move so slowly, but walking had always helped him think before he’d become a speedster and it was worth trying now.

He still needed Malcolm and Damien to help him find the Spear of Destiny. There was no way he could do it on his own, he could admit that to himself. As long as those two were more focused on what they wanted than on taking care of him, he should be fine.

The only way to do that would be to remind them why they were working with him. Malcolm was behind this quest to take care of him, so maybe it was time to “accidentally” land him in a time and place where he could see his wife and son from a distance. That should distract him.

Damien only seemed to be working with Malcolm because they were sleeping together and because he derived amusement from watching Eobard suffer. He couldn’t stop them from… that, but if Malcolm was reminded of his family, it might break them apart.

Eobard examined the plan and decided it might work. Now he just had to come up with a way to implement it.

Chapter Text

The plan worked, Malcolm left him alone, and they finally cornered the Legends in World War I to get the Spear. Eobard didn’t clearly remember what happened, but evidently, they got it and everything they wanted and then the Time Idiots broke time by coming back to take the Spear before Eobard’s people could. He found himself holding the Spear and preparing to kill Sara Lance with it and then the Black Flash appeared. Eobard dropped the Spear, which no longer had power, and ran for it. Ran normally that was. He had to get Malcolm and Damien and get away.

That was easier thought than done, since Malcolm couldn’t stand and Damien was unconscious. Eobard grabbed them both and left the time, knowing he couldn’t make a non-powered escape with so many Legends still standing.

The Black Flash chased him. Slowed by the weight, Eobard could almost feel the zombie monster’s fingers brushing his back, but he finally got away. Shaking with terror, reaction, and exhaustion, he got the three of them back to the lair.

“Eobard, don’t fight with me, just let us take care of you,” Malcolm said. Eobard gazed fixedly at him, not really taking in a word he was saying. His vision was pulsing oddly, and he felt like he was still in motion.

“Come on, Eo, snap out of it!” Malcolm grabbed his shoulders and shook him.

“I’m hungry,” Eobard said, feeling like the words were coming out in slow-motion. That wasn’t right. Everything else was in slow-motion, not him.

“We’re going to get you food, just stay awake,” Malcolm pleaded. Eobard wanted to reassure him, to wipe the panic off his face, but two words had been all he could come up with. He fuzzed out again, barely aware of Malcolm wiping his face with a wet cloth and muttering about nosebleeds.

He didn’t have a nosebleed. By the time he was able to raise a hand to check, the wet skin was tingling as it dried.

He came to again when Damien appeared with a platter of food. They really had taken to heart how much he needed. Eobard dug in, completely foregoing manners of any kind, and only slowed long enough to breathe occasionally. The effort left him drained.

He didn’t even object when Malcolm picked him up and carried him away.

Chapter Text

Eobard slowly woke up in semi-darkness, stiff and hungry again. He was warm, firmly pressed against another body. There was a subtle humming and a soft flicker of light that he knew didn’t usually happen in his lair.

He lifted his head, ignoring how the effort made him shake. Damien sat at the foot of the bed with a high-caliber gun in his hands, jaw set in a hard expression. A lattice of light surrounded the bed, providing the illumination and the humming. How had a laser array gotten set up in Malcolm’s room?

He put his head back down, but immediately went rigid when he heard the Black Flash snarl.

Eobard jolted upright and stared. The monster prowled the edges of the lasers, but clearly couldn’t make it past. Damien tracked it with his gun, prepared to fire if the Black Flash somehow made it inside the barrier. Eobard wasn’t sure what good a weapon would do, but he knew better than to assume it would do nothing. The former Ra’s al Ghul and a high-ranking member of the League of Assassins who also had training in magic wouldn’t construct a defense without making sure it could be defended.

He had badly underestimated their intelligence.

“Don’t move too much, Eobard. You don’t want to attract that thing’s attention,” Damien said, keeping his voice low.

Malcolm mumbled and rubbed his eyes. Eobard absently put a hand on his chest, keeping his eyes on the Black Flash.

“Well, this situation can’t go on for much longer,” Eobard observed.

“We’re aware. Malcolm and I couldn’t come up with much of a plan, so I’ll be needing your input, but we never intended for this to be a long-term solution. You’ll find some food on your left.”

Eobard frowned a little, but eating was more important than worrying when there was nothing he could do.

He ate, with better manners this time, and thought about what could be done. He would have to draw off the Black Flash somehow, to get it out of the lair. Then they would probably have to move. He wasn’t sure how much mind the monster had, but there was no point in staying somewhere it was familiar with. It all came down to whether or not he would be able to outrun it.

“Don’t forget, Eo, we’re in this together,” Malcolm said, putting a hand on his shoulder. “You can include us in this plan you’re cooking up.”

Eobard’s eyes fell on a gun that matched Damien’s, sitting propped not far from Malcolm’s hand. An idea began teasing the edge of his mind.

Wait, what?

“Did you just call me Eo?”

Malcolm and Damien exchanged a glance.

“I did. You risked your life to save both of us back there in World War I even though you knew it would expose you to that thing. Maybe you aren’t sleeping with either of us, but you’re a part of our relationship. That means you get a nickname.”

“For the record, I think nicknames are dumb,” Damien added.

Eobard rolled his eyes and finished his food.

“I think I know how to fix the situation, but it’s going to take exact timing. Why am I wearing pajamas?”

Eobard came to this realization when he edged out of the blanket nest Malcolm had formed around him.

“I put you in them,” Malcolm said. “After everything that happened, your clothes were a disaster. They were smoking and they stank and they had holes in them. Furthermore, I know from experience that sleeping in jeans is not comfortable.”

“As if your designer jeans count,” Damien inserted snidely. “Don’t worry, Eobard, I didn’t let him take any liberties while he was undressing you.”

Eobard could have done without that image in his mind.

“Do you really think I’m the kind of person that would do something like that?” Malcolm demanded.

“Personal experience indicates that you are.”

Eobard found a new set of clothes folded on the night stand and tuned out the other two’s bickering while he got dressed. They had already seen him naked, so he didn’t feel much modesty about it.

“If I may be allowed to continue,” he said, to recapture their attention. “When I tell you, I need you to drop the laser field and start firing. It should give me enough to time to get ahead of the Black Flash and lose it in time. While I’m gone, I need you to pack up the lair. It’ll be too dangerous to stay here after all this.”

“Are you sure you’re ready to run again? You were in really bad shape just a few hours ago,” Malcolm objected.

“I’ve had two good meals. Once I stretch out, I’ll be fine.” Eobard had private doubts about that, but there no point in troubling anyone else with them when he needed them at the height of their focus.

Damien didn’t have anything to say, so Eobard began stretching. It had been a long time since he’d felt the need to, but he was so stiff it sounded like a good idea. The amount of pain the first few minutes gave him told him he was right. He never would have been able to outrun the Black Flash if he’d just taken off. Well, Malcolm would be pleased he was learning to take care of himself.

“Wait until it steps into the corner again,” he said quietly, dropping into a sprinter’s crouch. It was totally back to basics right now, but he didn’t care as long as it kept him alive. “As soon as I’m gone, put the field back up. I expect it to chase me, but we can’t have it stopping to kill you two.” He wasn’t sure why it suddenly mattered so much, but he didn’t have time to consider it right now.

He drew on the Speed Force, slowing everything in the room. The Black Flash turned toward him from the corner. The laser field flickered out. Eobard surged forward, the hunting cry of the Black Flash ringing in his ears. Damien and Malcolm opened fire.

Eobard left the lair. When he got back, they were going to have a serious conversation about how many closed doors there were in that place. He couldn’t abide closed doors.

Chapter Text

He wasn’t sure how much time passed, but he finally lost the Black Flash. He slowed and stopped on a side street, not winded but close to it. He needed some food before he headed back to Malcolm and Damien.

And maybe some time to consider how his feelings were changing at an alarming rate.

He put his hands in his pockets, chilled by the temperature wherever he was. It must be fall or early winter. Possibly early spring, he wasn’t sure. Did he have any money?

Eobard stopped in his tracks and dug through his pockets. He spent so much time hopping from one era to another that he hardly ever remembered to carry money on his person. He didn’t have any.

Well, it was time to pick somebody’s pocket.

He got moving again, found a crowd, and picked out a likely target. A blond man in a nice suit walked toward him, leaning toward the cell phone pressed to his ear. Distracted, perfect.

Eobard kept his pace purposeful but unhurried, doing nothing to draw attention to himself except shiver slightly. He couldn’t help it.

The man drew level with him, and Eobard snaked a hand into his pocket. Jackpot! He resisted the urge to use his speed to make a clean getaway. He was in no shape to lose the Black Flash a second time.

“CCPD! Hold it right there!” a voice shouted behind him. Eobard stopped, his legs stiff. Why was someone shouting about police? The guy he stole from shouldn’t have noticed anything…

“Turn around,” the policeman instructed. There was no one else he could have been talking to, since most of the other people had backed away. Eobard raised his hands shoulder high and turned.

It was the blond guy and Eobard knew him. Square jaw, blue eyes, good looking. Eddie Thawne was facing him down the barrel of his gun. Eobard began to remember why he disliked guns so much.

Eddie recognized him too. His mouth gaped slightly, and his gun dipped. He recovered quickly and waved to the crowd. “Nothing to worry about everyone. Go about your business.” He lifted his badge and waved it briefly.

Eobard sighed and handed his former ancestor back his wallet.

“I thought you were dead. How is this possible?”

“Barry took me out of the timeline a while ago and I’ve been trying to undo the damage you caused ever since.” The words came out bitter. Eobard had known the back of his mind that he was furious with Eddie for doing this to him, but he hadn’t expected it come out so obviously. Maybe he had deserved it, but how could a policeman essentially murder his own relative?

He crossed his arms over his stomach as it growled loudly. Eddie holstered his gun and put his wallet back in his pocket.

“Come on, Eobard. I’ll get you something to eat.”

Chapter Text

Eobard sat across the table from Eddie, trying to understand how this had happened. He’d stolen from the man, traumatized him (he was guessing, he didn’t actually remember the circumstances of his death, since he was a younger version of the Eobard who had done those things. It was only thanks to a glitch in time that he remembered being Harrison Wells.) and done a lot of violence that he knew Eddie must be somewhat aware of. Why was he being so nice?

Eddie looked up from his phone. He’d been texting almost constantly since they’d arrived in this restaurant. “I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be rude. Barry’s having a crisis, you must know how it is. I’ll try and sort it out quickly.”

He had no idea what that meant. It was like dealing with Malcolm at his most sensitive and emotional. Had there been something in the book that Eobard wasn’t aware of that said speedsters were supposed to get into a lot of crises?

That was logical, given the highly distractible and simultaneously fixated nature of speedsters. Eobard had mostly overcome that handicap on his own, since there had been no one to help him, but he supposed Barry would have a difficult time as the first speedster. The Flash was breaking new ground, with the help of his long-suffering companions.

Eddie set his phone aside. “I understand there is some bitterness between us. I did sort of erase you from existence. I would apologize, but there was nothing else I could have done to stop you. You have to be aware that you were… really dangerous.”

“I’ve never stopped being dangerous!” Eobard snapped, shifting uncomfortably. The truth was, he was starting to feel different. Yes, he had no hesitation and no remorse when it came to dealing with someone who was a threat, but his quest to live had taken higher precedence than harming random people for the sake of it. He no longer found it as enjoyable, maybe. He had actually found himself in the humiliating position of trying to curb the violent tendencies of Damien on more than a handful of occasions. At least Malcolm was willing to take his side when it happened.

Eddie gave him a serious, direct look. “Based on the limited experience this encounter is giving me, you’ve changed,” he said patiently. “I’m not saying you’ve become someone like Barry, or even an ordinary person, but you aren’t the monster you were before. I’m glad to see that and I’m sorry there’s nothing I can do to help you. That operation was irreversible, I’m afraid.”

Eobard was distracted from the sheer nonsense of that little speech by the arrival of the food they had ordered. He started eating, turning Eddie’s words over in his mind.

He was different. That was to be expected, since he had gone through a lot of things that required him to adjust the way he did things. Did that mean he wasn’t the same person? Was he no longer the Reverse Flash, dedicated to undoing everything the Flash did? Was that who he needed or even wanted to be anymore?

Could he ever go back to his life?

He knew the answer to that last question was no. Even if he did eventually get what he wanted and sent Malcolm and Damien back where they had come from, he couldn’t erase the effect they’d had on him. He knew how to work with other people, albeit reluctantly and unhappily, and he was genuinely starting to like it. Maybe not working with people, but he liked having Malcolm and Damien around. They livened what had been an incredibly lonely life.

He had to put them back eventually. Damien needed to go back into the timeline, even if it meant facing his death. That thought hurt.

“How did you know you were in love with Barry?” he asked, laying down his fork to keep from gripping it too hard.

Eddie narrowed his eyes, but not as if he was angry. It was a thoughtful gesture and one that Eobard found a little unsettling. He hadn’t expected Eddie to take his question seriously. He wasn’t entirely sure he wanted to know the answer anyway. He didn’t even know why he’d posed it.

“Well, I only got to know Barry after he woke up from the coma the lightning put him into. He struggled to accept my relationship with Iris, but he was always kind and friendly. He was, at times, an invaluable source of information on all things West. Not only that, but we did work together. He was dedicated to helping people and I admired that. He was in some ways, the man I wanted to be: intelligent, well-liked, and able to adjust himself to all kinds of difficult circumstances. It wasn’t until you kidnapped me that I began to realize what had happened.”

Eobard sharpened his attention. He couldn’t remember this part clearly.

“You told me that in the future Iris marries Barry, not me. You see, at the time, I was going to propose to her.” Eddie paused with a self-conscious smile, as if he was amused by how much his life had changed. “I know you were trying to impress on me my lack of consequence, but it made me think. I got a little distracted by the word order, I guess. It started to sound like I hadn’t succeeded in marrying Barry and he chose Iris instead. By then we knew who you were, and I came up with a plan to stop you: kill myself to prevent you from coming from my bloodline.”

He hadn’t known about that. Eobard picked up his fork again and chased a stray vegetable around his plate. He had never wanted to drive anyone to suicide.

“I talked to Pierre and he suggested sterilization as an alternative. I felt really stupid.” Eddie grinned again and Eobard felt a quick flash of gratitude to the STAR Labs head of human resources. He had hired him to keep tensions down between Hartley and the other employees, but Pierre was clearly proving his worth.

“We started talking about it and I had to come clean about the feelings I was developing about Barry. Eventually, I broke up with Iris and even more eventually, I confessed to Barry. I never knew it, but speedsters will try anything. He thought about it for a few days and then agreed to go out with me. He said later that curiosity was eating him alive.”

“Yes. Speedsters are cursed with curiosity. It drove me to even greater experiments than when I was an ordinary physicist,” Eobard said, smiling fondly. Maybe being eaten alive with curiosity wasn’t fun, but it did certainly lead to a number of interesting outcomes.

“And there you have it. The not-so sordid details of how I fell in love,” Eddie concluded and turned a penetrating look on Eobard. “Are you asking because you need tips?”

“No! I don’t know. I’ve been working with these… people. A man with orange hair gave them your book and they have been driving me crazy with attention.”

“My book? I haven’t written any book,” Eddie said.

“You will. Apparently, the preponderance of speedsters in your extended family inspired you to write a book detailing how to care for and relate to them for all their poor spouses. I didn’t finish the introduction.” Eobard rolled his eyes.

“Orange hair? Oh, that must be Kerry. He’s a time traveler, I guess. His fiancé keeps breaking into the house to make fun of Barry.”

“The orange guy was mad because we tortured and brainwashed this man who worked for him. He gave my partners the book to distract us from the mission and I guess make them fall in love with me, I don’t know. I can’t tell what’s happening anymore.”

Eddie leaned forward, looking keenly interested. “What kinds of things have your partners been doing?”

“It’s mostly Malcolm. He’s always bothering me to eat and sleep and talk about how out of step I feel. Something about my senses leading to an increased feeling of detachment that might cause depression and he didn’t want me to be depressed. He dragged me into bed with him and Damien, the other one.” Eobard felt his shoulders slump. “It was the best night’s sleep I’d had in nearly twenty years.”

“My experience has indicated that a speedster will sleep better with company. Barry always complains of restlessness and muscle cramps when I’m not around. So this is good. You’ve never had anyone to look after you and now you do. I understand it might be a rough adjustment.”

Of course he would think it was a good thing.

“The point is I’ve never been good at personal connections and positive emotions. How can I know if I’m falling in love at all?”

Eddie furrowed his brows and thought. His phone made a noise, but he ignored it. Eobard stared at the device. Was Barry trying to contact Eddie again? What would he do if he didn’t reply? Eobard had no desire to get in a fight with the Flash right now.

That alone told him something was seriously different. For the longest time, even before he’d been marooned in the past and stripped of his reality, merely thinking of the Flash had been enough to drive him murderous. Now he just didn’t want to deal with him.

“When the thought of not being around these people gives you pain, when you can’t imagine your life without them in it, that’s when you know you’re falling in love,” Eddie said slowly. “It may not be particularly profound, but that’s the best I can give you.”

Before he could say anything else, Eobard’s watch beeped.

“I have to go, thank you,” he said in a hurry and sped out of the restaurant.

He returned to the lair to find it packed and Malcolm and Damien having a heated debate about where to set up the new lair. Eobard felt the world center itself around them when the two came into sight. Maybe Eddie was right. He was having a hard time facing the fact that he had to let them go. Maybe he was going to have to explore keeping them for a while first.