She didn’t want to be here.
She turned her phone in her hands for the nth time hoping to see a notification. The court room was beginning to close in around her as the clock ticked closer to the hour. The seat beside her remained empty and her messages continued to show no responses. Clenching her fists, she pulled in small laboured breaths. She’s fought cases without her clients before. But, by the final day she’s always managed to bring them around and show their faces to the jury.
This one was different. He didn’t even respond to her questions. Pulling the jug of water—placed there for her client—closer to her, she filled up her glass and chugged it down as the clock hit the hour and the judge walked into the court room. As the water shoved her annoyance back down her throat, her mind scrambled to create an excuse for her client. The jury followed in after him and took their spots in the room. Everyone’s eyes landed on the empty seat beside her and a spotlight shone upon her.
“Please be seated.” The judge spoke into the room and every other chair squeaked a little more than the last one. Spinning her pen between her fingers, she focused her gaze on her empty papers. The papers were supposed to hold her closing statements and significant pointers, but her papers were untouched. She was hoping to use her client’s remorse for her statement.
“Is you client too busy to join us?” Her head shot up as she locked eyes with the judge.
“I—I apologize for my client, Your Honour, he’s been caught up with work.”
“He must be working harder than all of us then.” Shutting her eyes, she looked down and her empty papers stared back at her. She hated this case from the first day and every day she’s reminded even more about why she hated it. She was defending a pompous man who still hasn’t understand why he was here. He had no remorse when she laid out the charges against him and when the plaintiff stood in the witness box. Everything was a big inconvenience to him.
“We can wait, if we need him to be here.” HR's voice broke through her thoughts. He would have sounded encouraging, if it wasn’t for the smirk planted on his face when she turned towards him. The lines and dimples on his face deepened as he kept his eyes focused on her. Her eyes tried to focus on something other than his blue eyes—moving to his clean suit or to his kept hair. With one eyebrow raised, he didn’t break his gaze as she continued to lose her focus around her surroundings.
The jury’s stares had disappeared, her silent phone was forgotten, and the judge’s looming bench had blended with the background. He was teasing her, and he kept his eyes trained on her, waiting for her to break her smile and roll her eyes at him. With her robotic movements, she flashed him a forced smile and blinked back to the court room.
“That won’t be necessary, make your closing statements and we’ll move on.” The judge nodded at her and she scrambled to her feet. Sneaking another peek at her empty papers, she smoothed out the wrinkles in her suit and walked closer to the jury box, trying to ignore HR's following gaze. Every eye was trained at her with hints of annoyance and irritation.
She knew the jury already hated her.
She was fighting against a woman who was trying to fight for her life. The plaintiff claiming self-defence and she was accusing her of making up harassment claims when it was clear that her client was the one lying. She was accusing a woman for lying and for the jury, she was fighting for the wrong side. Any appeals to humanity were not going to help because even after knowing her client for two weeks, she still couldn’t say anything nice about him.
“Ever since our invasion in 1992, we were first introduced to the possibility that we were not alone. Not only were we not alone but we were surrounded with something much more powerful and we aren’t prepared. We learned about inter-dimensional travel. Travel so dangerous that hostile forces can easily come into our quiet world and bring us to our knees. Miss Juniper,” she motioned to the plaintiff, “chose to transport herself to a different world, opening our world to hostile forces. We were introduced to many angles to this case as my colleague will surely mention; however, we are here to decide on the punishment of her inter-dimensional travel.” She watched the jury shift in their seats as her words help no weight. Her hands weren’t moving with her words. She was rocking back and forth in her spot and her words mumbled as she tried to come up with the next sentence.
She looked like an amateur.
HR's gaze burned her ears. He told her this would happen. She knew he listened, and he watched her every move. She could feel him in her head.
“We are to assume it was an accident. She clicked a button and fell through a wormhole. Why would she run from the collectors? Just because her situation is different does not mean we can play with the rules we have set up to protect ourselves. As our law suggests, no one is allowed to travel through worlds. In the end, she hurt her manager, then stole his technology. Then she travelled through the multiverse. Instead of returning, she stayed somewhere else. She was on the run. Anyone willing to run through worlds and not return, is a criminal. She can claim to be a victim of something, she still ran away. And now that she has been fired she has chosen to turn to making allegations. She broke the rules and she needs to understand the consequences.” Two women sitting stared at her. Their eyes burning into her heart. She was choosing to miss the bigger, worse part of this case and they knew.
“Thank you.” Her voice quivered as she looked back at the women. Giving the jury and the judge a half bow, she traced her steps back to her spot.
“Nice one.” HR's voice was barely a whisper, but his smirk burned through her entire facade.
“Mister Wells, if you would keep this going.” The judge spoke up.
“Of course, Your Honour.” Nodding while getting up, HR buttoned his suit, fixed his tie, and ran his hand through his hair. Flashing her a quick smile, he gave his client an encouraging smile and turned towards the jury. She watched everyone’s eyes light up as he flashed his smile to each of the six jurors.
“I agree with my colleague when it comes to following the rules. However, it appears she has not been able to completely understand my client’s case. This case is not just about inter-dimensional travel and it never was. There is a reason of why she went through a breach. The reason for this case is not stuck on the fact that she used breach, we need to focus on why she used that breach. My colleague mentioned Miss Juniper hurt her manager. That was because she was protecting herself.” HR turned towards his client who hid his mouth behind her Kleenex. HR blinked away from his client back to her as she continued to sip another glass of water.
“She wasn’t just a victim.” HR gave her a look and turned back to the jury. “She was a victim of workplace harassment. He continuously threw himself on her, and when she chose to clear the air and contact the correct representatives so, not only did the company tell him, he then got angry. She then tried to speak to him, which she shouldn’t have to. He reacted by taking away her job, her livelihood. Then, he proceeded to attack her. She did what anyone would. She fought back with a pen and then ran away.” His client’s sniffles echoed the walls of the room.
"She knows the meaning behind using a mode of illegal transportation when she was faced with the option of him or inter-dimensional travel—she chose the latter. Going through a breach is prosecutable but if we are to prosecute innocents then we’re no different than a dictatorship. She made a mistake, yes. But she was protecting herself. Take away all of her means of travelling through breaches but do not prosecute her for the heinous crime of one lusty, egocentric, crazy man. A man who doesn’t even think it’s important to be here.” HR tapped the railing in between him and the jury, nodded, and walked back to his seat. He patted his client’s shoulder and passed her a glass of water.
She’s heard countless of HR's speeches before. Every speech was intricate and focused on the soul of the jury. HR was taking the humanity plea. He was asking everyone to look into their souls and she knew he’d win. He wasn’t going to win with just the closing speech, but because since the first day he’s believed in the case. If she was on the jury, she’d make sure he’d win.
The judge shuffled his papers and the jury looked at one another. They had already made up their minds. She knew it, HR knew it, and even she was on board of their decision.
"Has the jury been able to make their decision or does it still need time for deliberation?" The judge broke the silence. A man stood up with a folded paper in his hands.
"We have, Your Honour."
"Please, go ahead."
Taking a deep breath, she kept her eyes lowered and her pen scribbled the jury’s decision. She could feel HR watching her with soft, sad eyes.
As the juror continued with their settlement decision, HR watched her hunch her back and curl her fingers into a fist. Her jaw had tightened, and her shoulders were stiff. Ever since HR knew her, she could fight any case. Even this one. She always hated chugging water while she was arguing but today she wasn’t using her strategies.
HR knew she wasn't nervous.
The judge banged the gravel and finally she looked up. They stood up together and she kept her eyes trained on the judge with her back straight and her hands tight behind her back. She was about to take her loss with pride.
"As a judge, I have to give impartial decisions. However, since the beginning this case was clear. A man thinking like he deserved everything he laid his eyes on and then used his company to overpower an employee causing her to choose a prosecutable method to protect herself. Clearly," the judge turned to her and her back straightened even more. "Your client
has no remorse. So, he and the company need to fulfill the settlement by the end of the month, 10 days, or there will be more consequences." She narrowed her jaw and nodded.
"The court is adjourned.”
Everyone piled out of the room and she fell in her chair. Suddenly, her hair was too tight, the water she drank was too much, and everyone’s hushed whispers were too loud. Turning her face to the ceiling, she finally let out a long, silent breath. Covering her face in her hands, she leaned on the table and worked on filing away this case in her mind along with the others. She counted her breaths with the footsteps leaving the room. Her ears echoed with her heartbeats and all she wanted to do was go home and wrap herself up in a blanket and sleep off the entire day. Her phone buzzed and expecting it to be her client she flipped it over to find a text from her boss. Rolling her eyes, she flipped her phone back and went back to closing her eyes.
“Thank you,” a voice travelled through her ears. “Thank you so much, Mister Wells. You have no idea what this means to me.” Following the voice, she turned to the table beside her. HR was in the middle of clearing the table when his client reached over to his arm. HR could only shake his head.
“You really don’t have to thank me. You were fighting for your rights. You deserve this win. I’m happy that you chose me to help you fight this.” He patted her shoulder as she wiped her eyes.
“Still, thank you so much.”
“It was my pleasure. And, please call me HR,” She gave him a smile and grabbed her purse. Grabbing her coat, she moved away from the table and stood in across HR.
“Your fees. I won’t be able to pay the entire amount right away, but I can…” she searched through her bag for the cheque she had folded up.
“No, no, please—” HR put his hands up. “Please keep your money. I won your case and that’s all the payment I really need. You go home and celebrate.”
“I promise. You keep that cheque.” He pushed the cheque back closer to her. “Don’t keep your family waiting.” She whispered another thank you and walked out with her family. Turning away from the door, HR caught her stare. They stared at each other as the world around them drifted away, The ticks of the clocks stopped, the past floated away and it was just them staring at each other enjoying each other's company.
"I couldn't take it." HR shrugged.
"I would have been surprised if you did."
"She does need it more than I do." She nodded to his answer and turned back to her papers, a smile still playing on her lips.
"Are you happy with the result?" HR wanted her to focus on him. It's been too long since they've stood in the room together, with only each other's company and making each other smile.
"As a person, yes. As my client’s attorney..." she matched HR's gaze, "surprisingly, yes. He wasn't the greatest client."
"You've had a knack at picking the best ones."
“I also don’t have a great track of winning against you.” HR's hands were shuffling with his files and his papers. Every time he'd stopped for a second before shoving something in his bag. His mind trying to shuffle through words and possible scenarios, trying to come up with something so he could keep talking to her. Taking in a deep breath, he continued fixing his already organized bag and spoke up.
"Do you have another case on your to do list?" His breath stopped in his throat as he prepared himself to be ignored or to hear an excuse.
"Well, judging from my planner," her finger moved down her empty page, "it turns out I am done for the day."
Not missing a beat, "Let's get coffee." Her head shot up to him as he watched her wide eyes.
"Don't ever joke about that!"
"Well…tea or hot chocolate," his hands waved in the air, "a beverage of some kind.”
“Yes, yes, please. I need a beverage.”
“Perfect, let’s take a walk!” Slinging his bag over his shoulders, HR let her lead the way to the door.
He missed her.
The thought kept racing through his head as she walked beside him. Her strides were long and with purpose. Her heels clicked with every step and her body stood lean. Trying to keep his mind from spiralling beside her, he focused on the people around him. The hallway was lined with different kinds of people. Every corner and bench was busy with hushed whispers and quiet sobs. Hurried steps rushed by them to their clients or to the court rooms. Tissues were being passed around to each other, hugs were offered, papers were being flung. Angry phone calls and new ideas were crowding the lawyer’s seconds. Animated fights and last-minute deals continued around them. The world moved forward, really quickly. Everyone stayed uninterrupted and fixated in their own problems.
HR’s eyes wandered back to her. She was in her favourite suit. The creases were pressed perfectly, and her coat remained unbuttoned—her own version of being casual. Her hair was tightly pulled back in a topknot bun with specific strands hugging the sides of her face. Her hand was wound tightly around her bag. Their faces met with everyone around them but rarely each other’s. HR knew if he stopped walking and let himself be consumed by her presence he wouldn’t be able to stop staring. His mind geared through words and sentences he could say to liven their walk but settled on keeping his words to himself.
The last time they really spoke was the last time they saw each other. They had yelled each other, fought for each other, claimed their feelings for each other, and begged each other to give the other a chance. The sun had shone through the large windows in their apartment and then nestled away in the horizon. Light blue skies turned into loud thunderstorms. The moon was hidden behind dark clouds the world screamed at them. Their phone rang but they kept yelling. The clock ticked but they didn’t stop. They had promised each other that they would never end a day with a fight and their fight had never ended.
HR constantly played the moment in his head—trying to come up with other scenarios. He has always been good at creating perspectives while in the courtroom but in that fight, he didn’t let himself consider his options. At this point, he was still considering them. He remembered the breakfast they shared. The reports in the newspaper that were etched in his mind. HR always wanted to confront her. He wanted to continue the fight, so they could finally put it rest and share another breakfast together. He wanted to reach over to her hand and tell her he missed her but then he didn’t want to ruin this exact moment.
Instead, he felt himself catching glances to save every little detail of her in his mind.
Her eyes looked tired. She had managed to hide most of her sleepiness with the way she carried herself. The entire room was hers and they were just there to listen. But, her arguments fell short today. HR knew she loved to match eye contact with the jury and the judge, she loved making them squirm under her gaze but today she barely raised her eyes. She even avoided his gaze. The way she fidgeted with her fingers and her pen, the way she scribbled the decision, HR knew she was ashamed. He had always told her that she was an open book—if she felt strongly about something, she carried the room if she didn’t the room carried her. From what he’s heard, the last few cases have been lacking.
By their efforts the last time they haven’t shared a court room since their fight out of courtesy to each other. He’s declined cases that was against her and he’s gotten word that she had done the same. Until the lawyer on this case changed last minute.
He’s stared at his phone trying to tap on her number. He tried to convince himself that she changed her number and moved on. Then, his heart reminded him that she might be waiting for his call. Numerous times he found himself waiting outside her courtrooms, considering if he should wait for her to walk out or if he should sit and watch her. He wanted to face her and tell her that he missed her. He wanted to tell her that he missed their arguments, he missed the way they worked on each other’s cases, and how they baked for each other to apologize.
They kept their faces forward, their eyes taking in details around them as if for the first time.
As the sun continued to shine on her, HR’s mind noted down the smaller new details. Her jet back hair seemed lighter in the sun, almost a shade closer to brown. The loose strands seemed shorter and he wondered when she decided to cut her hair. Taking in a long breath, HR tried to focus on the streets in front of him instead. It felt like the entire world was on the streets during mid-day—shuffling into restaurants for lunch and meetings.
Lunchtime also meant preparing for protests. Students, scientists, researchers, even some lawyers were beginning to gather around a biochemistry research facility. Large groups were beginning to gather around them, followed by individuals with larger signs and bold shirts. People pushed by HR and her rushing to the middle of the sidewalk, to the roads and to their friends. HR tried to maneuver them between the crowds as a large group shoved passed them, pressing them together and letting HR wrap his arm around her. She stood pressed up against HR with her eyes shut and her shoulders pressed together. Her hands were gripping his suit jacket while he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and let his thumb rub a corner to her nape. Screaming and yelling started building up. Names were being called and she continued to bury herself deeper into his chest.
She could feel his slow breath and his heartbeat strong and quick. Her breath began to match his heartbeat as her world became more about him. She could smell his cologne—it was the one he wore to their first date. It was the one she would sometimes wear to wave off any of her pre-case worries. As she kept her eyes closed, she let the scent and the warmth of his arms take away the worries and the noise. The previous case had disappeared. Her incessant ringing cellphone disappeared. Her anger disappeared.
Their awkwardness disappeared.
She hung onto him as he cleared the path and they finally reached the other side of the street, away from the screaming crowds and the large boards. No one was shoving them anymore, there was no more pushing but they still stood together. Their arms still wrapped each other, and her face still buried in his chest. HR had stopped moving and his hands froze on her back. With his heart in his throat, he kept trying to keep himself from taking in the smell of her shampoo. She loved to use the scent that smelled like fresh flowers and a sunny morning. Every morning now felt like he was slowly losing that scent.
As she felt him standing still, her mind ripped away from her heart and focused on her hands and noticed his hands and she finally peeled her face away from his chest--her face already feeling colder. HR stopped his breath as their eyes matched and they both pulled away clearing their throats.
"Sorry—” she started.
"It was a large crowd," he interrupted, and she turned towards the group.
"Looks like it has something to do with Thawne."
"When does it not have something to do with Thawne?" Giving each other smiles, HR nodded at the cafe across the street. "We're almost there.”
"You still...you still go here?" Her eyes were stuck on the cafe in front of her. A large sign on the corner of the intersection read Jitters.
“Oh, this is the one place that lost their coffee last, I trust it with my life.”
Walking inside was different. Her eyes wandered the room, skipped from the tables, and pushed her memories further in the past. They loved sitting at the high table closest to the doors and furthest from the other guests. They shared their first coffee on that table and HR held her hand. HR asked her to move in on that table. Tightening her grip on her bag, she gulped back the pictures that flashed through her head.
It didn’t smell like coffee anymore—after the world lost its coffee beans.
“Do you want to grab us a table, I’ll grab the drinks?” HR nodded at the table, at their table.
Her steps were slow, calculated as she stepped back into her old world. Her mind told her that she should pull out her computer and busy herself with another case and forget that she agreed to this. But, the smell of his cologne still swam through her mind. His hands on her back had a warmth that she had missed but would never admit. She watched HR wait in line and giggle with the barista—probably making a coffee joke—and run his fingers through his hair. He never liked to keep his hair neat and he loved to keep his hands moving. He told her that he loved the idea that he was painting a picture with his hands.
She thought about how warm she felt wrapped against him and how cold she’s felt lately. Every case felt empty and ever defendant was unconvincing.
You’d regret this. His words always played in her head when she was handed a new case file. It echoed when she was supposed to fight against a woman who travelled inter-dimensionally. She wanted to tell HR that she did regret her decision and she regretted their fight.
But, she wanted to know if he regretted it.
She wanted HR to tell her that they made a mistake.
The sun soaked up Jitters and her hands warmed its in rays, evaporating what felt like months of freeze. Trying to rip herself from everything HR, she turned her attention to the protest. There were hints of Thawne near the doors. The entire world seemed to be angry, like usual. She filed away a note to read the news once she got home. Her eyes, wanting to trail back to HR, got interrupted by the buzzes of her phone stuffed deep in her bag. The notifications coming one after the other and she could see her boss angrily sending a new one every time she wouldn’t respond.
“So, they have this stuff called tea,” HR slipped himself in the seat in front of him, sliding her drink in front of it. “Honestly, it’s an acquired taste.” She pulled it up to her lips, noting the strong scent.
“I asked her to add a shot.” Spitting her sip back into her mug, her wide stared at HR as he gulped back a large sip.
“Harrison!” She hissed at him as he shrugged his shoulders.
“That’s not acceptable?”
“It’s hardly past noon!”
“I’m not seeing the problem?” Taking another sip, HR sent her a wink and she took her long sip letting the liquid wash away her morning and the stress she recycled through. HR tapped his chest as he threw back another drink and she noticed the details she tried not to stare at in the court room. She knew that HR loved to watch his surrounding, trying to understand the stories behind everyone’s day and while he watched others, she watched him.
His dimples seemed deeper. His smile was still big and bright, enough to light up the entire room. His tie was looser, and the top button unbuttoned. His eyes were like the ocean, blue and magnetizing and full of stories that she wanted to know about. His jawline still sharp. His cheeks were full of the smile that was stuck on his face.
He made her happy. She wanted to ask about his day, about his last year, and about him. She wanted to get to know him again.
“How was the match?” HR interrupted her thoughts and she suddenly realized that she was staring. “Did they team win?”
“You’re not serious.” Her eyes watched HR as he shrugged. “Harrison!”
“What!” Just because I don’t stay up to watch the Indian cricket team, doesn’t mean I don’t follow them! They’re a strong team, I wanna make sure they’re winning.” His hands were flying, enunciating his every word and then he stopped at stared at her with a smirk playing on his lips. “Unless, you’re not a fan?” Rolling her eyes, she gave him a smile.
“These eyes bags didn’t just happen because of the case!” HR’s eyes squinted tightly together as he rolled into a laugh and her ears perked as her mind filed away his laugh as a special moment.
“So, you lost your case because you were busy watching them?”
“You might be right. I can’t confirm it to my competition.”
“Did they at least win?
“Of course! These teams have nothing against them!” Covering his smile with another sip of his tea, he nodded at her.
“Also, you’re wearing your blue scarf.” Her hands flew to her neck wrapped with a satin blue scarf. Turning the fabric in her hands, her heart jumped to her throat. He remembered. He paid attention.
It was his idea. She wanted to support her team, even in the court room, but she couldn’t just walk in with a loud and bright jersey, so he pulled out his pocket square from his suit jacket and knotted it around her neck. It became her support and her prized piece of clothing.
“It looks good on you.”
“Someone has good taste.” Their eyes never wavered from them and it felt like they were the only ones existing in the world. The tea in their hands was their coffee. Jitters was their breakfast table. The sun was the early weekend mornings with their newspapers. She was lost in his oceanic eyes as she tried to find the hints of emerald in the blue. They reflected the sky and the clear peaceful ocean that neighboured the city. His eyes were her safe place and finally, she felt like she was submerged in comfort.
“Why did you take his case? You clearly didn’t believe him.” HR blinked his eyes away from her and she felt herself let go a long breath, bringing her back to Jitters.
“HR. Come on—”
“Humour me, you would have never taken his case.”
“She broke the law, she—”
“Travelled inter-dimensionally and became a carrier of potential threat, I know I listened to your speech. But you didn’t even believe yourself.”
“It was just another case assigned to me. It wasn’t personal.”
“They are always just given to you.”
“Harrison.” Her voice was firm, almost annoyed at his accusations. She wanted to leave this argument in the past. “It’s a law firm. I get paid with the work I do.”
“You can say no.”
“I still need the work!” HR shut his eyes but she could feel his eye roll as he sighed in defeat. He was ready to continue but he didn’t want to ruin the moment. Relaxing his shoulders, he opened his eyes with a smile.
There was a comfort in their argument. She enjoyed the fact that they could still argue. HR continued to ignore the buzzes on his phone and she did the same. People came in and out, screamed about the protest and sighed over the food in the cafe. But, they ordered another round of tea and ignored the time around them.
“What happened between us?” HR wiped his mouth after his sip.
“You didn’t call.”
“You left. In your cricket jersey and everything.” HR kept his responses small but kept his feelings forward.
“But you were the one who never came back.”
“I didn’t want you to feel like you had to leave the apartment, you love that space."
“So, you just kept Cisco in the divorce, instead?”
“It wasn’t much of a divorce, more of a separation, wasn’t it?” HR gave her a smirk as she tried to hide her smile. “And he chose to stay! He’s a big boy.” They watched each other, a smile playing on their lips. Her mind reminded her what she appreciated about him. He managed to make her smile. Their eyes played a dance as they waltzed from each other’s hands to their smiles to their relaxed shoulders. They were stuck in an unspoken moment as the sun shone brighter and the people were quieter, and the worries of the day flew away. The past seemed to disappear, and they were left with a chance to rebuild.
Then their phones rang.
Her buzzed somewhere deep in her bag but sounded louder.
As he busied himself in checking his phone, she fished around her bag to her find her phone filled with her boss getting tired of her unresponsiveness. Keeping a swear under her breath, she watched him. HR ran his fingers through his hair as he considered the text. He didn’t want the moment to end and was ready to freeze the time with her. The worries of the world didn’t matter.
“I should probably…” she drifted off.
“Yeah, it’s getting late. Cisco has been expecting me for a while.”
“I—” she cleared her throat and sipped back her entire tea, “thank you for inviting me.”
They got up slowly. She busied herself with fixing her bag and he worked with buttoning up his shirt and retying his loosened tie. They both double and triple checked for their phones and their wallets. Every second with each other was precious. Instead of the world disappearing, everything was suddenly louder.
Fixing their bags across their shoulders again, they walked in sync out the door. The fresh air and the traffic broke through their world as they remembered how separated they stood. As people shrugged passed them, crashing them into each other brushing their hands against each other. Turning to towards each other, HR tried to tell her to stay. He wanted to keep talking, even if it was arguing about the past. He wanted to keep hearing her voice. He wanted to keep watching her smile grow and blush under his smirk.
He wanted to stay close to her.
She kept opening her mouth as her mind would settle on a sentence and her heart would then veto it. The moment he had walked into the courtroom three days ago, she’s wanted to go after him and tell her how she felt.
“I miss you.” If HR wasn’t watching her, he would have missed her whisper against the sounds around them. A load lifted from her shoulders as the words replayed in her head.
“I miss you too.” She wanted to fall into his arms and let out the tears she had been shoving back for months. This wasn’t them. They shared their words and their feelings. They didn’t let a fight define them. But, they still couldn’t run into each other’s arms.
“Here, tomorrow? After 5?” She watched HR’s face light up. His eyes were brighter and his smile was bigger.
“It’s a date.” Taking a one last look at each other, they turned away.
Cars raced across the intersection as she waited outside Jitters. Her hands kept flying to her hair, to her bag, and to her shirt. She’s met him before and they’ve shared jokes with each other. He’s gotten her coffee and she’s rolled her eyes at him. He’s pointed out her mistakes in her cases and she’s upper handed him in court. But, she stood outside the cafe, controlling her breath for the moment he would show up and they would share their first private moment.
“I promise I’m not late!” HR’s voice rang through the traffic as he rushed over to her. He pulled his shoulders together as he squinted his eyes, trying to gauze her anger. “We totally agreed to meet at 3:34, right?”
“You’ve got to make up for those four minutes, Harrison.”
“Oh no, I’m in trouble.” He pulled the door open for her as she continued to shake her head at him. He then proceeded to pull out her chair for her to which she rolled her eyes while a smile played on her lips. He promised to get her a coffee right away and she watched as HR requested the barista to make the coffee faster because he had to impress his date. He paced back and forth at the pick-up location as she motioned to her watch and he inaudibly asked her for more time.
Rushing back with two coffees and out of breath, he looked at her, “did I make up the time?”
“Only if the coffee is good.”
“Argh, dammit!” He watched her take a sip and sigh in contentment and he finally relaxed his shoulders and took his sip. Neither of them needed to pass any formalities but she watched him more. She noticed the way he played with his hands while telling his stories. He would look away when he was remembering something and then bounced back with a new memory. She noticed how he watched her hands as she spoke and then would turn to her with a smile as he just watched a film with her hands.
Their coffee got cold as they talked politics and court cases. They brought up their old cases and continued to fight about why the other was right. HR got them another coffee and she got them a croissant to share. Couples around them came in and left. Students finished their essays and HR remembered another story. Industry workers came in covered in grease after their shifts and laughed about their bosses, but she got them a sandwich to curb their cravings and he got another set of coffees.
He told her about his favourite colour. He told her about Cisco and his STAR Labs.
She told him about her parents and how she’s constantly learning to connect to her roots. She told him how a part of her wants to fly back to her mother land and help the workers earn rights. They competed who fought the most for human rights and agreed that as long they do it together they’d be unstoppable.
The day turned into dark, their coffees ran out and croissants proved to be not enough. HR searched for a pizza place as they walked together, never considering the fact that they would have to go to their separate homes.
Still, there was a promise of tomorrow.
“You need to check your phone more often!” Cisco’s voice rang through HR’s ears as he entered the cortex. His hat pointed in HR’s direction.
“What was so urgent? I was busy!” HR yelled as he threw his bag at Cisco’s who slammed it to the ground. Cisco played with his hat in his hands.
“I needed some help.”
“You think I can help with this garbage?” Cisco hit HR with the hat.
“This,” Cisco motioned to the board, “is not even close to garbage just because you don’t get it.” HR rolled his eyes as he turned around the Cortex. The entire area was filled with more boards than usual. There were more equations than when he left with in the morning. Numbers and papers were sprawled across the entire room. If he didn’t know Cisco and his process, he would be convinced that his friend was losing his mind. His notes were on the ground with books opened to different diagrams and solutions.
As much HR couldn’t solve Cisco’s equation he was happy to replace his thoughts. The entire walk to the laboratory, he kept thinking about her. The brush of her hand was still warm on his and he regretted not holding her hand. He wanted to pull her in for a hug and ask her to forget the past, so they can restart where they left. Her words kept replaying in his head as he tried to pause the entire moment and notice every detail. She had looked tired when she walked into the court room, but she looked lighter on the street.
HR had watched her walk away. She walked with a purpose and he rooted his feet into the ground, so he wouldn’t run after her. She had weaved around the protestors as she glimpsed at Thawne. He wanted her to look back, but he also knew if she did he wouldn’t have been able to stop himself. So, she walked away, disappearing into the evening and the crowds and his heart finally settled back in its position. His words sat unspoken in his heart and worked on rephrasing them for tomorrow.
“You still haven’t explained why you were exploding my phone, Cisco.”
“I need your help!” Cisco waved his hat around the room. “That idiot, Randolph, is being an adult teenager again and I’m about to shove him through a wall.”
“What did he do?”
“Just because he’s the face of this company, he’s trying to act like he owns it and is working on talking to Thawne. The Eobard Thawne. The Eobard Thawne, suspected of creating viruses to sell his antidotes, the Eobard Thawne who stole his research from students. He didn’t even help the World War M victims because he knew he wouldn’t be paid! He’s making more money creating problems in the medical field than actually helping people." HR watched as Cisco continued to pace around the room, stepping on his books and papers.
As HR didn’t show a reaction, Cisco walked up to him, “The Eobard Thawne suspected of killing his competition! He killed someone HR!”
“Yeah, that guy is bad news.” Cisco threw his hands in the air.
“YES! And Randolph is busying himself in ruining and sinking my life’s work! Why aren’t you reacting like me!”
“I asked her out to drinks after our case.” HR pulled his shoulders together as he whispered.
“Did you say sorry?” Cisco marched up to HR who kept backing away.
“I did nothing wrong!”
“You let go of the best thing that has happened to you!”
“This wasn’t a date!”
“Why didn’t you apologize?” Cisco grabbed HR’s suit jacket in his fists.
“It was both of our faults!”
“You could have finally proposed to her!”
“I wasn’t about to ask her to marry me today!"
“I miss her, get her back! You’ve been carrying that ring for a year.” Cisco pointed to the door and HR worked on pushing his arm down. There hasn’t been a day gone by when Cisco hasn’t mentioned how much he missed her. For him, one day she was there, and the next HR was in the laboratory with his bag and suits. HR had played their argument to Cisco who has tried to pick it apart, so he could find the perfect place they could rebuild on.
Ever since they separated, HR had run through different ideas to approach her with Cisco. They had decided that HR could wait outside the courtroom to continue their conversation but HR had changed his mind in the last minute. Cisco was the one to suggest calling her and setting a time to meet up again. They had created the perfect opportunity to crash into each other.
And then she continued with her case.
And then she won.
Cisco and HR watched as she convinced a jury that Eobard Thawne was not guilty of murder of an entire town. They watched Thawne give her a hug on television as he walked out of the courthouse, free.
They watched as the media filled their screens of sobbing families and angry citizens. They watched as she kept an emotionless face in a sea of protestors.
Even Cisco couldn’t push HR to go after her after that.
“I miss her too, buddy.” HR’s voice was soft. Cisco patted his chest after letting go off his jacket. He smoothed out the creases and nodded at him. As HR focused on his cases, he worked on finding compensation for every living family member from the town. Every day he would meet a new family and their argument would replay in his head.
Cisco watched HR talk less about his feelings and put it more into his writing. He watched his ideas go from romance and court room mysteries to heartbreak.
A dull silence filled the room. The rustle of paper echoed against HR’s ears as his mind worked on hushing his heart.
“Let’s work on his Randolph problem, where—” a bell echoed through the halls of STAR labs.
Tomorrow after 5.
She finally said it.
Every day after their fight and HR left she wanted to wait outside STAR labs just so she could talk to him again. She waited outside his firm. She waited outside his court rooms. Every time she would get more courage to move her step just a little bit closer to him and then she would cave and turn away. They promised each other a future together. They promised each other that even after a fight they would find their way back to each other.
But, it didn’t happen this time.
And then she won the case.
Suddenly, she felt like every chance for her to reunite with him had flown out the window.
So, she pulled up her hair, narrowed her eyes and focused only on work—as much as she didn’t want to.
All her life, she promised that she was going to make her parents proud. She studied harder than the person beside her and flew through her law years. Meeting HR, she was able to pay attention to things around her. She was seeing the sunrises and every detail of the flowers around her. Her love for coffee became a connection with HR. The dinner table wasn’t just about filling it up with papers and books anymore, but about actually having dinners and conversations. Her time had started to be less about achieving the zenith and more about understanding herself. HR made her realize that she had to make time for herself and they took up learning the drums together.
Cisco told her about HR—actually introduced Harrison Wells to her. He told her how he lost his family. He told her how he embraced the sadness and covered it with happiness. Cisco, then, told her how she brought out a HR that was becoming honest with his feelings. She anchored him, he told her. She knew why he fought against her with her Thawne case and she knew why he was helping every individual family. But, she missed sitting next to him in front of the drums, eating across him at the dinner table, and arguing with him about case strategies. She missed losing the world around him with him.
Keeping her face straight, she walked through the elevators towards her office when her boss, the company partner, stopped her. He gripped his cane as he leaned closer to her.
“I have been calling you.”
“I had just finished a case, Mister DeVoe. I was busy delegating future strategies. ”
“Delegating or wasting time?” She stared back at him. Since the first day she walked through the doors and climbed up from junior associate to senior, he kept a close eye on her. She didn’t stay the long hours, she didn’t waste time talking in the office. She would come to the office and she would leave. She’s taken cases from him and she’s helped him win cases.
He hated that she was with HR.
“You were calling?”
“You have a new case.”
She started to make her way to her office, making sure to keep an eye on the clock. “I already have another case.”
“This one trumps the other. It’s your old case. It has been reopened with new problems.”
“Mister DeVoe, old cases don’t need me back.”
Planting himself in front of her, he growled, “as much as I don’t want you to have this case, the client insists.” He pointed to a meeting room across the hall and she swallowed a deep breath trying to keep herself from rolling her eyes. She had finally gotten a case she actually wanted to fight and win. She had been making notes and researching previous cases to prepare. She was ready to ask HR for help but now she found herself marching down to another privileged client who thought they owned the building and her time.
The glass around the meeting room were covered with blinds and she took in a deep, long breath, pulled all stray hairs back, and pressed down her suit before she entered the room.
“I apologize for making you wait. My name is—”
“Aah, miss exotic. We meet again.” Eobard Thawne sat in front of her, leaning his jaw against his hand resting on the table. His lips were twisted into a smirk and his eyes ran along her starting at her heels and finishing at her topknot bun. Her breath became short and slow as the world around her twisted around her. Suddenly, she felt underdressed. Her grip on her bag tightened and the room closed in on her as her argument with HR echoed in her ears. The news headlines recycled through her head and Eobard’s taunts and whispers shivered up her spine. She was ready to throw up.
The sun was setting, as it peered between the trees and building. The sky was becoming a mix of fire and darkness as the clouds rolled in taking away the last few rays. The trees danced in the wind and the rustles of the leaves overtook every sound the traffic. Cisco and HR marched through STAR labs, their eyes keeping notes of the building around them as they neared the main entrance. Neither of them understood the idea of a bell at a laboratory, until Randolph had been locked outside for hours.
As they passed through the large windows on the main floor, more clouds engulfed whatever was left of the sunset. Loud sounds of thunder echoed through STAR labs as droplets of rain danced against the windows.
The bell rang again.
The wind slammed the rain harder against the building, lashing itself against what was once a sunny and quiet day.
“Someone wants to get out the rain.” Cisco sighed as he turned on the screen to the camera at the door. Two women stood outside. One tightly held onto an umbrella and the other continued fidgeting with her hands and bouncing on her heels. They looked rushed but also without anywhere else to go. HR opened the large doors and he finally saw their faces. They both were shivering against the rain around them as their coats lightly hugged them.
“My name is Caitlin Snow.” Her voice shivered against the wind. “This is my mother. I’m a bioengineer.” Her words were short and breathless. Her mother hung onto her arm tighter with every word.
“Please come in first.” HR shuffled them inside as they stood huddled together. Every breath Caitlin would take, she’d change her words trying to come with a better sentence.
“My father…he is a bioengineer—he was…” she looked at her mother who had eyes closed as if she was ready to start sobbing. Caitlin looked at HR and then at Cisco and then back at her mother. Her mouth opened and closed as she slowed her breath in a few blinks and stared sharply at HR.
“Eobard Thawne killed my father. I need your help.”