“First of all, it was not my fault that the power went down!” Cisco shouted, storming down the hallway. One hand was clutched tightly around a flashlight – the other was clinging – no, it was dragging – the hem of Barry’s jacket. Caitlin watched with some shock as a sheepish-looking Barry Allen emerged from the hall and into the cortex.
“Barry,” Cisco said shortly, shining the flashlight at the speedster’s face, “explain to them.”
“C’mon, man –”
“You broke all of the heaters! In December!”
Barry gave Cisco a wounded look. “It was on accident. Besides, I didn’t think you’d be annoyed about the heater part –”
“Dude. I don’t like the cold. If you doubt that, you can just ask Captain Cold.”
“The cold’s a dick. Captain Cold is a dick. I rest my case.”
“First of all, Len isn’t that bad –”
“Ramon, you were about to tell us why the power went down,” Harry interrupted. Caitlin saw another beam of light flicker from behind her – and a minute later, Harry came into full view, his own flashlight stuck in his hand. At the questioning look Caitlin gave him, Harry explained briefly, “I had one in my bag. Came prepared. Power outages happen.”
“See, Cisco?” Barry said instantly. “Power outages happen!”
“Not by the force of a human being!”
“Well, there was that one time with Farooq –”
“But he had superpowers that were specifically attuned to sucking up electricity.”
Barry made a frustrated sound, throwing his hands up in the air. When Harry shone the light on him, the speedster grumbled, “I accidentally drained all of the power.”
“How?” Caitlin asked quizzically. “I didn’t even think –”
“I was trying to multitask,” Barry replied dryly. “You know – running on the treadmill, cleaning up the facility, Googling cat videos, drying a bunch of really damaged books – which, by the way, I got from the library –”
Caitlin gawked at Barry. “How much of that were you doing at once?”
Barry smiled guiltily. “I don’t know.”
“Well, know or not, it drained the power,” Cisco said with a discontent sigh. “And guess who’s the lucky guy to fix it all? Me.”
“You’ll be able to fix it just fine,” Caitlin assured Cisco. “This should be easy for you.”
“Yeah, but it’ll take a while. It’s like doing math homework. You might know the answer, and you could probably get it done really fast if you wanted to, but no, all of your teachers want you to take the long way and show your work…” The rest of Cisco’s words drifted off into a mindless grumble, which followed him out the door. Barry only stood in front of Caitlin and Harry for a few minutes before jutting a thumb after Cisco.
“I should…at least try to help out,” he said halfheartedly. “And try not to screw anything up.” With that, he hurried out of the room. Caitlin only sighed, turning back around to her (now black-screened) computer. She was grateful that all of her previous work had been saved – otherwise it would have been a serious pain in the neck to try to recover all of her files…
“How long do you think it’ll take them?” Harry asked, shining the light up on the ceiling.
“Knowing Cisco? Maybe a few minutes – twenty minutes, tops,” Caitlin answered. She paused. “Unless something goes wrong. Which it won’t – at least, it better not, because the garage doors are powered by electricity.”
“And what’ll happen then?”
“Well,” Caitlin murmured, drumming her fingers against the desk, “there’s always the chance Barry could phase us out of here – he knows how to do that.”
Caitlin flashed a momentary grin before saying, “Give me a minute – I need to grab my coat. The power might only be down for a few minutes, but this building can get pretty cold really fast.” She stood up from her chair, and after a moment, she asked awkwardly, “By any chance, do you have an extra flashlight?”
“No, sorry,” Harry responded, and he really did sound sorry. (As sorry as Harry could, anyways. Which was saying a lot.) “I could just come with you.”
“That would be a good idea,” Caitlin said, shaking her head. “Tripping over my shoes in the dark would not be ideal.” She started out to the hallway, feeling a surge of affection for Harry when his flashlight was already shining down the way. He had done so without saying anything – and while Caitlin couldn’t mention much, she was sure her thanks was known.
The two walked down the hallway in silence, the only sounds between them the clicking of their shoes against the ground and the occasional flickering sound in the walls and the ceiling. Judging by the growing noises, Caitlin could only guess that Cisco was working a little more on the power problem. And she hoped that it’d be fixed soon, too – she was beginning to feel the cool air creep up on her now, sending goosebumps up her arms and her legs. (And the fact she was wearing a dress wasn’t helping much, either. She had known it was a stupid choice when she went out to work today, but of course, she had thought that the heaters would be there to back the cold up. Of course, this was the one day Caitlin was wrong about the heaters being able to fix her wardrobe issue…)
“Almost there,” Caitlin said over her shoulder. “I left my coat in one of the lockers…” She yanked open the heavy door, holding it out for Harry. Once the two were both in the locker room, Caitlin strode towards her specific one.
“Can you shine the light over here for me?” she called. In the next second, the flashlight was directed down at her lock. “Thanks.”
It only took a second for Caitlin to insert her combination – only when the locker swung open, she found it to be –
“Empty?” Caitlin frowned, staring at the space that seemed to glare back at her. “But I had my coat –”
“You went out to lunch with Iris, didn’t you?” Harry asked, swinging the light further into the locker, as though that way, the coat might suddenly appear. “Maybe –”
“I left it in her car,” Caitlin groaned, closing the locker. “Right.” She turned to Harry, giving him an embarrassed smile. “I’m sorry – that’s probably five minutes in your life you’ll never get back.”
“I can live with missing five minutes,” Harry responded dryly. “Besides, you said that Ramon will have this place fixed up soon.”
Almost on cue, the intercom in the room crackled. Both Caitlin and Harry jerked up to look at it – and after a few seconds, Cisco’s voice came through, annoyance almost palpable.
“You guys are going to have to give me at least another twenty minutes,” he said indignantly. “Yeah – the mess that happened down here? It’s a little bigger than we thought.” In the background, Caitlin could hear several whooshing sounds – which she could only assume was Barry.
“What’s going on down there?” Caitlin asked, frowning.
“Nothing that major – it’s still fixable – but all I’m saying is that I might actually have to use a little more of my brain for this problem. Just hang tight. Also, don’t bother coming down here – I don’t want anyone accidentally screwing something up.”
“Sorry, you guys!” Barry shouted into the intercom. Both Caitlin and Harry jumped – but Barry probably hadn’t figured out that he was speaking a bit louder than he realized. “Cisco and I are trying to fix it as fast as we can – well, actually, Cisco’s telling me what to do and I’m doing my…fast thing. Sorry!” The intercom crackled off.
Caitlin pressed down a sigh. She thought longingly of her own warm apartment – of her warm blankets and the coat that was probably still in the backseat of Iris’ car.
That was when she heard the rustle of cotton – and then, before she could even react, something was sliding over her shoulders.
Caitlin’s head jerked up in surprise. She glanced down at her shoulders to find a familiar black sweater draped over them. Almost instantly, her goosebumps started to settle down – though even despite that, Caitlin started to say, “This really isn’t…”
“I’m fine,” Harry replied, holding out the door for Caitlin. “I’m wearing a long-sleeved shirt.”
“I’ve noticed – but it’ll still get cold,” Caitlin protested, already starting to shrug off the sweater. “You really don’t have to –”She was about to hand the sweater off to Harry, but to her surprise, he just (gently) pushed it back to her.
“I can live for another twenty minutes without wearing a hoody, Snow,” Harry said, and though his voice was quiet, there remained a familiar firm undertone in his words. “Don’t bother arguing.”
Caitlin pressed her lips together. “You’re sure?” she asked uncertainly. “Because if you’re cold because of me, I don’t really want to –”
“Oh.” Caitlin took a few steps down the hallway and after a moment, she said, “Thanks.”
“…this is a really warm hoody.”
The weather forecast was wrong.
Caitlin knew she should probably give up on the weather forecast altogether, though she never got around deleting that stupid weather app on her phone. She always checked the forecast in the morning – and then in the night, right before she was about to go into bed. If anything, she at least checked how cold or how warm it’d be the next day – but she didn’t always pay attention to the actual weather, mostly because again, the weather forecast app was always updating itself every few minutes.
Caitlin made a mental note to find some other reliable weather forecasting app on her phone – maybe one that would actually make more accurate predictions – because right now, it was pouring.
“Shit, shit, shit,” she muttered, stuffing her binder underneath her coat. The cool plastic pressed uncomfortably against her skin, but it was either this or let all of her notes and data get drenched.
Caitlin looked wildly around for a taxi – a subway station, maybe – only to find a steady stream of regular cars and people frantically walking through the streets under umbrellas or raincoat hoods. Lucky bastards, all of them.
Caitlin tilted her head up to the sky, trying to tell how much longer it might rain. To her devastation, the clouds were just as dark and stormy-looking as they had before it started raining – which meant that the rain wouldn’t let up for a while.
“Damn,” Caitlin muttered under her breath, looking around the street. Her apartment was a few blocks away – so she’d just have to walk it and hope that no one accidentally crashes into her…or that a speeding car won’t end up splashing dirty water all over her…or that she slips on the pavement and break her ankle in the process…
Caitlin almost didn’t bother walking at all. There were hundreds of things that could go wrong – and they could all be avoided if she just found a building to stay in until the storm stopped.
But she didn’t know how long it might rain, and besides, she wanted to get home as fast as possible.
Move, Caitlin thought, throwing back her shoulders. She was Caitlin Snow. She had faced dangerous meta-humans, speed-demons, and criminals with the most dangerous weapons in the world. If she could go through all of that without a scratch, she would most certainly get through a little bit of rain.
She surged bravely through the streets, making sure not to bump into anyone. She sped past anyone and everyone without so much as a second glance. And while she wasn’t moving at superhuman speed, it was in that moment did Caitlin Snow feel a bit like a superhero. (The only thing she needed now was a dramatic soundtrack and visual effects to hide the very unattractive fact that her hair was plastered against her face in the most chaotic arrangement possible.)
And maybe it was this fact that Caitlin Snow was imaging too much that caused her to nearly crash into someone.
Actually, she did crash into someone.
Caitlin was lucky enough to catch her balance before she could fall – though the person she had crashed into wasn’t so lucky. She saw a blur of black before the person fell backwards.
“I’m sorry!” Caitlin cried out, bending down. “Sorry – I just needed to –” Her words got caught in her throat when the person tilted his face up. It was the familiar pair of raindrop-colored eyes that got her attention first – and then the tousled, slightly messy raven hair.
“Harry?” Caitlin asked incredulously, instantly getting down on her knees. “Oh, my gosh – are you alright? Did you hit your head? Are you really hurt? Dammit!” She extended a hand, which Harry took gratefully. “What are you doing out here?”
“I overheard Barry mentioning something about how you were still at Jitters,” Harry replied, pocketing his hands. “And I know that your car’s still getting fixed – I thought it’d be best if I came to get you. People are reckless drivers in the rain, anyways.”
Caitlin smiled, feeling something warm bloom in her chest. “That’s nice of you,” she said, brushing a strand of wet hair from the side of her face.
Harry held Caitlin’s gaze only for a moment before averting his eyes. Speaking to the ground, he asked, “Is that your binder?”
Caitlin felt her smile drop. She looked down at the ground, her heart sinking. Sure enough, her carefully-organized, plastic-covered binder was sitting on the wet concrete, water already beading at its surface.
“No, no, no,” Caitlin groaned, instantly bending down to the ground. She vaguely heard Harry saying something, but never got around to processing what it actually was – until she felt a dull crashing sensation against her forehead.
It was Caitlin’s turn to fall backwards. Thankfully, she didn’t hit her head, but she did end up lying on her back.
Caitlin heard Harry swear – and in the next second, he was looking down at her, an uncharacteristically apologetic look on his face. “I’m sorry,” he was saying, holding out a hand. “I moved to get the binder – I should have just waited –”
Caitlin let out a weak laugh, clasping her hand around Harry’s. “I’ll be fine,” she replied, pushing herself up to her feet. “But my binder –”
“Here,” Harry said hastily, handing it to Caitlin. With a grateful smile, she tucked it underneath her coat again, making sure for certain that this time, it wouldn’t fall out. She looked back up at the sky – it was raining harder than ever.
“You don’t have an umbrella,” Harry said. It wasn’t a question.
“No,” Caitlin replied, biting down on her lower lip. “I know I should have, but I didn’t think ahead properly today. Crazy, I know.”
A corner of Harry’s lips tugged into a smile. “Lucky for you, I’m a fast thinker.” Before Caitlin could question what he meant, Harry slipped his sweater off and held it above their heads, blocking out the water.
For a second, the two did nothing but stand under the sweater.
“Gotta admit,” Caitlin said, taking a tentative step forwards, “probably not one of your most original ideas – the umbrella’s already been invented.”
This time, Harry laughed.
Caitlin hadn’t noticed that she was drifting to sleep until she had to jerk her head up from her desk. She rubbed her eyes, digging the sides of her hands especially hard into them. She’d need to have to find some different way to stay awake, though it was proving to be extremely difficult…
Caitlin jerked her head up again, mumbling, “I’m awake. I’m awake.”
“I know you are,” Harry said from the table in the opposite room.
Caitlin groaned, pushing her hands up to her face. “I need coffee,” she sighed. “Or cake. Or something really, really disgustingly unhealthy that’ll keep me awake for the whole night.”
Caitlin groaned. “Donuts would be fantastic.”
Barry jerked his head up from the floor. “I could probably grab a bunch from the nearest bakery,” he volunteered.
“Yes, please,” everyone chorused.
With a grin, Barry stood up and returned with a grease-dotted box of the snacks. He dropped them on Caitlin’s desk, snatched one from inside the box, and sat back down on the floor, cheerfully scratching away at a lab file. Amidst all of the typing and pencil-writing sounds in the labs, Cisco asked, “Are we sure that the meta-human’s only active at three in the morning?”
“All recent records mentioned something like that,” Barry replied, accidentally spewing some donut crumbs over his papers. He cringed, and in less than a second, they were all brushed away and dumped in the garbage can. Holding up a half-eaten donut, Barry said, “Lucky for us, we’ve got all of this sugar and caffeine to keep us up.”
“Caffeine doesn’t exactly affect you, though,” Caitlin pointed out. “If anything, you should be the most tired out of all of us.”
“Exercise is supposed to keep you up, too,” Cisco said, snapping his fingers. “And then Barry gets have his super-fast metabolism to feed off any calories he’s burned off…which, by the way, is still insane. Like, you could eat all of the burgers, man. And ice-cream. And candy. Damn.” He grabbed a donut from the box, adding, “See? Like, this is just screaming at me to go hit a gym after tonight.”
“Do you even go to a gym?” Barry asked incredulously.
“I keep planning to,” Cisco responded, stuffing the donut in his mouth. His voice slightly muffled, he added, “But I never do! I’m depending on stress to do all of the weight-lifting for me.”
Caitlin grinned, leaning over to grab a donut. “Well, whether you plan on joining a gym or not, now’s a good time to splurge,” she said, waking herself up a little. She scooted the box a little towards Harry, saying, “Come on – you should get on with the sugar rush, too.”
“Harry eating donuts? Can’t picture it,” Cisco snorted.
Harry only rolled his eyes at Cisco, grabbing a chocolate donut and taking a large bite out of it. At this, both of Cisco’s eyebrows shot up.
“I stand corrected,” he said, holding up a sticky finger. With that, he whirled around and wiped his hands on a napkin. “I’m checking the security cameras again – there’s got to be at least a few more sightings of this stupid meta…”
“Imagine if she doesn’t show up at all,” Barry said, looking over Cisco’s shoulder. “I mean, how bad would that be?”
“It wouldn’t be a total loss,” Caitlin said, brushing some crumbs away from her desk. “We got donuts.”
“That’s the spirit!” Cisco cheered.
“I think it’s safe to say that the sugar is starting to go to our heads,” Harry said, walking over to his side of the room. “Because if the meta hasn’t shown up at all today, that would mean that she had either come up with some better, more dangerous plan to endanger Central City…or there’s a specific reason why she decided to get off the grid. It might be other meta-human problems or she’s decided to create chaos elsewhere – oomph!”
Caitlin had pushed another part of the donut in Harry’s mouth. “We’ll worry about that once the sugar rush goes down,” she said matter-of-factly. “Right now, we’ll just stick to watching the security cameras. Okay?”
Harry chewed vigorously before swallowing. “Dr. Snow –”
“Dr. Wells,” Caitlin mimicked. A part of her was screaming (you’re doing the thing with Harry, it was shouting, with Harry. You just stuffed a fucking donut in his mouth, for God’s sake – what are you doing?), but the part of her brain controlling her mouth didn’t seem to care. (God, Cait – one donut and too many coffees and now you’ve turned into someone completely new. Why. Why now?) “Later.”
“You know another thing sugar rushes do?” Harry asked flatly.
“Turns you into a crabbier person than usual?” Cisco shouted over his shoulder.
“No,” Harry replied indignantly. “You end up crashing, which would not be helpful right now.”
“Oh, you’re a cheerful one,” Cisco said, shaking his head. “Barry, hit me with the gingerbread donut.”
Caitlin didn’t remember falling asleep, but it wasn’t until she heard the beeping of her phone’s alarm did she become aware that her neck was stiff and sore – and that there was an incredibly sweet taste in her mouth. (And not the good kind of sweet, either. It was the too-fake-sweet – the kind that only came from store-brought pastries that came with too much sugar.)
Caitlin groggily opened her eyes, and with a soft groan, she pushed herself up from the desk, only to feel something slide away from her shoulders. Blinking owlishly, she looked down to find Harry’s hoody sitting on her chair.
That woke her up.
“Shit,” Caitlin muttered, standing up. She looked around the lab, and sure enough, came to the realization that she was still in STAR Labs. Barry was asleep in a chair, the side of his face resting on his hand. His head was lolling back slightly, and right next to him was Cisco, whose mouth was wide open. Caitlin would have found this funny, but right now, she was still trying to get used to her bearings. She took another turn around the room and found Harry fast asleep at his desk, looking odd with only a t-shirt covering him instead of his usual hoody. His glasses were set aside neatly and out of the way – his hands were folded together, and his head was resting on his bare arms.
Caitlin bit down on the inside of her cheek. She looked down at the hoody still on her chair. Had Harry put it over her himself? Her mind wandered to all of the other times Harry had offered it to her – when she was cold, when they got stuck in the rain…and now this.
Caitlin looked around the room again. It was a mess – the donut box was empty, though there were still a few flyaway crumbs of donut everywhere. Not for the first time since she woke up, Caitlin wondered what exactly had happened while she was asleep. (Or maybe she had been a part of it, too. Oh, God.)
Letting out a quiet sigh, Caitlin grabbed the hoody from her chair and made her way to Harry. She gently settled it over his shoulders. To her relief, he didn’t even stir. Caitlin had pinned Harry down as a light sleeper – but if he was asleep now, that would mean Caitlin wouldn’t have to make any awkward conversation with him about last night. (And how terrible that would be…)
Caitlin surveyed the mess in the room. She’d start small – first by getting those papers organized…and check if the meta-human ever showed up. (And then she’d have to force herself to wake everyone up.)
(and the miracle of scarves)
Caitlin heard a muffled cough in the background. She spun around to see Harry covering his mouth, his eyebrows knitted together in obvious discomfort and unease. He looked absolutely miserable, his glasses slightly askew and a slight tremble in his shoulders. Caitlin frowned, making her way slowly towards Harry’s desk.
Still completely oblivious to Caitlin, Harry coughed again. He rubbed a hand beneath his eyes, bringing up the other to cover up his hand. He cleared his throat once – twice – and started to take out his notes. He picked up a pen and started to write, though right before he could, the ink skittered across the paper as another cough overtook him.
“You sound terrible,” Caitlin said quietly.
Harry startled, whirling around. He adjusted his glasses over the bridge on his nose, asking in a surprisingly weak voice, “How long have you been standing there?”
“Long enough to know that you’re not feeling well,” Caitlin replied. She hesitated for just a minute – and then, getting past herself, rested her hand briefly over Harry’s forehead. It felt warm under her palm, and though it might have just been her imagination, Harry’s face seemed to warm even further.
“You should get some rest,” Caitlin said, dropping her hand. “Get warm, too. It’s been cold lately, and you haven’t exactly been wearing anything right for the weather.”
“I need to get this part done –”
“You can’t concentrate on anything important if you’re not feeling well,” Caitlin said, pulling Harry up from his seat. Harry, to her relief, didn’t even bother arguing. Instead, he seemed a little dazed if anything. He stumbled forward a little bit, but Caitlin only caught him by the shoulders.
“Hang on,” she said, and still holding onto him, she managed to unwind the scarf from her neck. She wrapped it tightly around Harry’s neck, adding, “See? At least you’ll have one more thing to help you get better.”
Harry looked down at the scarf, the red fabric bobbing lightly against the bottom of his chin. “Thanks,” he said, his voice hoarse.
Caitlin smiled. “You’re welcome,” she replied, her hands still wrapped around the scarf. The fringes were caught in between her fingers – and she lifted her eyes to see Harry looking back down at her, this time the faintest bit of coloring in his otherwise pale face.
“Get better soon, then,” Caitlin said, patting Harry on the shoulders.
“Thank you, Caitlin.”
“You’re welcome,” Caitlin replied. She paused, and then, tugging a little at the loose fringes of the scarf, she stood on the tips of her toes and pressed a brief kiss right on Harry’s pink cheek. And just as quickly as she had done so, Caitlin pulled away.
Harry was staring down at her, an odd look on his face. “What was that for?” he asked quietly.
Caitlin felt heat rush up her face. “Just.” She patted Harry’s shoulders again. “Just a little bit of luck for you to get well soon.” She let her hands fall to her sides. “And the scarf looks good on you.”
A corner of Harry’s lips twitched into a smile. “You think?”