“Let me get this straight. The cause of death is a poison apple?” Joe asked, taking a step back to put more room between himself and the crimson fruit.
“Yeah, but it’s strange.” Barry dug through the files on his desk, looking for the folder that held the apple’s test results. The pair were alone in Barry’s lab discussing a recent possible homicide. Three days ago, the head librarian of Central City’s Public Library never returned from her lunch break. When concerned co-workers went to check on her, they found her body on the break room floor. Originally they had thought the woman had choked, but further inspection had revealed unusual discoloration and so the CCPD ordered a few tests. “The apple wasn’t injected with poison, it is poison.”
“What are you trying to say, Barr?”
“I’m saying that this,” he gestured to the innocent looking fruit, “isn’t even an apple. Every part of it, to the most fundamental level, is poison. It only looks like a fruit.”
“How is that possible? Is somebody producing these things or do you think it could be a new meta?”
Barry sat back in his chair and sighed. He stared at the poison apple for a moment, examining its perfect shape and color. Despite the bite taken out of it and the time passed, it still looked tantalizingly fresh. “I don’t know Joe. Bette could change things into bombs just by touching them, so it is possible that someone can do the same with poison. It’s still too early to tell. You and Eddie should ask around at the library, see if there is anyone suspicious. Maybe you can find out where this thing came from or who had access.”
“You got it, Barr. I’ll let you know what we dig up.”
“Thanks Joe. And be careful not to eat anything, just in case.”
The detective cast one more weary glance at the fruit perched on the corner on the desk. “...Right. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Oh, um, actually…” Barry trailed off, a goofy grin taking over his features as he nervously ran a hand through tousled hair. “I’ve got a date tonight, I’ll probably get back pretty late.” Or if he was lucky, not at all.
“A date, huh? This person Iris tells me you’ve been texting lately? The secret one?” His foster father leveled him with a playful yet piercing look. “You do realize that Iris is an investigative reporter. She’ll find out eventually and if she doesn’t then I will. I’d like to meet this mystery person my son is seeing as well.”
“I know, I’ll introduce you soon.” Barry promised as he watched Joe leave. “But not too soon,” he whispered to himself. The Speedster was sure that the detective wouldn’t take the news of who his son has been dating very well.
A week later, Barry was spending his day off from CSI work at S.T.A.R. Labs when Joe called with an update on the Snow White case. Another librarian had stopped showing up for work and Joe and Eddie had gone to check it out. The woman was alive, but had been completely hysterical and stuck in her apartment. When they finally managed to break in, they discovered that her hair had grown an additional twenty feet over night. The weight of it keep her from being able to move much and it only grew back longer when she cut it.
“Okay, that has to be the work of a new meta.” Cisco grinned around the Twizzler caught between his teeth.
“But what’s their power? First poison apples and now unusual hair growth? Those sound like things from fairy tales.” Caitlin said.
“Whoa, dudes. A meta with the ability to make fairy tales come true? That’s so cool!” Barry and Caitlin glared. “Or would be, if they, you know, used it for good? I’m going to have to think of a awesome name.” Cisco ignored his companion’s long suffering looks.
“Joe said he and Eddie were going to head over to the library and ask around. They think they have a lead. The last victim, um, Rapunzel, mentioned that one of her co-workers, Abigail Wright, has been acting pretty weird since being denied a promotion. She would have had access to the fruit in the break room and this woman’s hair.” Barry zipped into his Flash suit. “I’m going to head over that way in case things go south.”
“That sounds like a good idea, but be careful Barry. Fairy tales ‒even Disney approved ones‒ are dangerous.” Caitlin warned as she brought his vitals up on the main console’s screen.
“Don’t worry guys, how tough can a librarian be?”
Turns out a librarian could be pretty tough. By the time the Flash arrived, the meta, a petite girl in her early twenties, was already worked up. People were panicking in their rush to evacuate as Abigail waved around a… sparkly pink wand? Seriously?
“Bibbidi bobbidi boo!” She cackled, sending a jet of light straight at Joe. The detective took cover behind his squad car, which transformed into a giant pumpkin a moment later.
“Um, are you guys seeing this?” Barry asked through the comms.
“Yeah man, she’s like five foot. Are you allowed to hit a girl that small?”
“Go for the wand Barry. She seems to be using it to channel her powers.”
“Right, wand. Got it.” The Speedster took off towards Joe first, diving behind the pumpkin for cover. “Joe we’ve got to get that wand away from heeeer‒ why are you holding a frog?”
“The frog. It’s Eddie. Abigail whammied him.”
“Oh, um… we can probably fix that later?”
The frog ‒Eddie‒ gave a disgruntled sounding croak.
“Right.” Barry looked toward the shoe store across the street. “Be right back.” He Flashed into the store and grabbed an empty shoebox. Using his super speed, Barry poked some air holes and was back behind the pumpkin in no time. Placing Eddie in the box, he closed it up and set it gently on the ground. Iris was not going to be happy.
Meanwhile, Abigail had been busy changing more cars into pumpkins and bringing inanimate objects to life, seemingly content to wreak havoc.
“I’m going to make a grab for the wand, cover me?”
Joe nodded. “Of course, just don’t get hit by one of those beams.”
The Flash leapt from behind their barrier and charged. Abigail noticed right away and began shooting beam after beam at him, missing each time. She stomped her foot as the Flash dodged again. The closer he got however, the harder it became to move out of each spell’s way. They went on for a while, Barry unable to get close and the meta unable to hit him. Eventually she must have gotten fed up because Abigail stopped shooting and raised her arms high above her head.
Taking the opening, Barry rushed forward only to be hit by a wall of magic. The meta grinned triumphantly as he slowed down, his limbs feeling like lead and his eyelids growing heavy. He was so tired. Barry barely heard Caitlin shouting about his vitals over the comms or saw Joe using the distraction to tackle Abigail to the ground. He drowsily watched as the wand was snapped over Joe’s thigh and the meta was placed in cuffs for transport.
His hazy mind tried to make sense of the situation. Meta. Fairy tales. Sleepy. Sleeping Beauty. Curse. Love. True Love. Kiss. He fought to keep his eyes open.
A familiar van came screeching to a halt nearby. Joe was yelling and Cisco was… Cisco-ing. Barry felt like he was floating as he was lifted into the van. A moment later a shoebox was placed next to him. He giggled. Eddie was a frog.
“What’s going on? The wand was broken! Why are they still like this?”
Was Joe always so loud? Barry wanted to sleep, but he couldn’t. He needed to tell them something important. Something about kissing. He liked kissing. Especially his boyfriend. He was a good kisser. The best! Mmm. Barry wanted kisses. No, wait. He needed kisses. Needed them because he was cursed. True love’s kiss. But nobody knew who, cause it was a secret. Barry needed to tell them before it was too late. He was so tired. Sleepy. Sleepy Barry.
He grabbed someone’s wrist, it didn’t matter whose. He was fading fast.
“C-call. C-all h-him. Call L‒”
Everything went black.
“I can start playing Lady Gaga again?” Cisco suggested as Caitlin finished getting Barry comfortable on the hospital bed. After the fight with the new meta ‒name still pending‒ the Speedster had fallen asleep and slipped into a coma on the way back to S.T.A.R. Labs. Joe was busy getting Abigail booked and settled into Iron Heights and Eddie was ribbiting up a storm in his cardboard habitat. Iris would likely be showing up soon, but Cisco didn’t know what they could tell her. Optimistically, Team Flash had hoped that the spells would be reversed when the wand was broken, but clearly they had been wrong.
“I don’t think Barry would thank you for that. It took him weeks to get Poker Face out of his head the last time he woke up.” Caitlin tried to smile, but it didn’t reach her eyes. They were both worried about their friend. Cisco was about to try to cheer her up when the sound of running heels echoed down the hallway and a frantic Iris appeared in the cortex a moment later.
“Dad called. He said‒” Her eyes landed on Barry’s still form, so similar to his state from over a year ago. “Oh no, Barry!” She was at his side in an instant, gripping his hand in hers.
“He’s in a coma again.” Caitlin told her, laying a consoling hand on her back. “We are hoping that with time, he and Eddie‒”
“Eddie?!” Iris span, looking for any sign of her fiance. “Is he like this too? Where‒?” Cisco cleared his throat, drawing her attention. She followed his gaze to the shoebox clenched in his hands. Caitlin guided her to a chair when her legs threatened to give out and tears sprang to her eyes. She placed a hand over her mouth to suppress a sob. “T- that’s all that’s left of him?” Her voice cracked as she fought for composure.
“Wha‒? Oh! No! No. He’s alive. Eddie is just… um‒” How do you tell someone that their soon to be husband is finding out firsthand that it’s not easy being green?
“Iris,” Caitlin took her hands. “Today’s meta‒?” She looked at Cisco.
“I’m still working on it.” He shrugged.
“Today’s meta had the ability to make fairy tales come true.”
“So, he’s like… Thumbelina?” She asked, clearly wondering which fairy tale character could fit in a shoebox.
They all stared at the box and it shook in Cisco’s hands as Eddie hopped around.
“The Frog Prince.” Caitlin finished.
Iris was silent for a moment, contemplating. She steadily rose from the chair and crossed the room to Cisco, taking the box from his hands and carefully placing it on the table. Iris removed the lid and gently picked Eddie up in her palm. She tried not to grimace at the touch of his cool, slimy skin.
“Then I just have to kiss him, right?”
“If the meta was using fairy tale curses, then fairy tale cures should fix them.” She smiled at her amphibious fiance. “True love’s kiss.”
Cisco was pretty sure Eddie was doing some kind of goofy froggy grin as Iris closed her eyes and puckered up. The moment her painted lips touched Eddie a sudden blinding light filled the room and then faded. When they could see again, Eddie was standing in Iris’s arms, back to his pretty boy self. The lovestruck looks on their faces was enough to give Cisco cavities. ...Okay, more cavities. He likes sweets, sue him. Caitlin looked torn between joy and wanting to test Iris for salmonella.
“See! True love’s kiss. That isn’t too hard, Sleeping Beauty was fixed the same way. We just need to find Barry’s true love.”
Aaaaaaand cue awkwardness. Everyone looked everywhere but at Iris.
“Wait, what?” She glanced around but nobody would meet her eyes. “You think I’m‒? Barry doesn’t love me like that anymore. We’ve talked about it. Beside, I’m clearly Eddie’s.”
“You should try.”
Three heads whipped around to stare at Eddie in surprise.
“Barry is a good guy. He doesn’t deserve to be stuck like this again.” Despite his insecurities about the possible future, Barry was still his friend. “Just promise me that if he does wake up, that it won’t change anything.” He lifted Iris’ hand in his and kissed the back of it. “Because you are my true love too.”
Iris smiled and wiped some tears from her eyes. She stroked Eddie’s cheek and kissed his lips. “I promise.”
Cisco, Caitlin and Eddie watched with bated breath as Iris approached the bed. She tucked her hair behind one ear and slowly leaned down, carefully resting her lips against Barry’s. When nothing happened she stood and backed away. Nobody called attention to their collective sigh of relief when their friend’s state remained unchanged.
A week and a half later and Barry was still in a coma. Team Flash, after hiding everything superhero related, had brought in people to try to break the spell on Barry. They had tried the obvious first, Barry’s ex-girlfriends Patty and Linda. Neither had worked. Next was Felicity, much to Oliver’s displeasure. When Barry remained unchanged, the quirky blonde made Oliver try too, just in case. (She took a photo to remember the moment by.) After that was Caitlin, a protesting Cisco and finally one of the baristas from Jitters who Barry was friendly with. Nothing worked.
Cisco and Caitlin sat in Star Labs, just watching their friend’s vitals as he slept, trying to think of who they could have missed. Barry wasn’t close to too many people since becoming the Flash, but they knew Barry had been seeing someone before all of this started. Unfortunately, he kept the person who he had been dating a better secret than his own identity. He always promised his friends and family that he’d make an introduction when both of them were ready, but gave no more information. Felicity had already hacked into Barry’s phone, but there hadn’t been anything useful.
They needed Barry back and the city needed the Flash. Luckily, there hadn’t been any new metas, but the Rogues must have noticed the absence of their resident speedster. A few hours ago, the group had pulled their third successful heist that week. Without the Flash, the CCPD weren’t fast enough to catch Cold and his Rogues.
Noticing the late hour, the scientists were about to call it a night when heavy boots could be heard stomping down the hall towards them. They exchanged worried glances. Whoever it was hadn’t triggered the alarms, giving them no time to prepare. If someone, especially a meta, had traced the Flash back to S.T.A.R. Labs and chose now to attack, they’d be in very big trouble. Caitlin was pulling out her phone to call Joe when none other than Captain Cold stormed into the cortex.
“Where the hell is he?” Snart growled. “First he doesn’t answer his goddamn phone for over a week and now he’s ignoring my heists? What do I have to do to get his attention, ice someone?! If the kid wants to end it, he can quit playing games and say it to my face!”
Cisco wasn’t proud to admit it, but he cowered before the criminal’s ire. He’d never seen Cold so angry before. The man hardly ever showed emotion, but it was clear just how pissed off he was now. Pissed off and maybe kind of… hurt? What?
“Ramon, Snow,” he snapped. “Where is Barry?”
They couldn’t tell him. Barry was defenseless. However, something in their body language must have tipped Snart off, cause his frosty eyes zeroed in on the privacy partition hiding the speedster’s body from the rest of the cortex. Cisco jumped to block him, but was easily shoved aside.
“Come on out and face me, Scar‒” Cold rounded the partition and froze in his tracks, gun dropping from suddenly limp fingers. “Scarlet?” He breathed, uncertainty and fear? lacing the word.
“What happened to him?” The thief almost whispered, all signs of his previous anger gone.
When it became clear they weren’t in danger of being shot for the moment, Caitlin stepped up. “He’s in a coma. There was a new meta with fairy tale-like powers. Barry was hit with a Sleeping Beauty curse.” Snart sat on the edge of the bed, taking Barry’s hand in one of his own and using the other to softly touch his cheek. Team Flash was too thrown by the Captain’s unusual actions to stop him. Having been kidnapped by the man, neither had thought Leonard Snart capable of being gentle or caring for anyone other than his sister.
“You, Doctor Snow.”
There was the harsh tone they were used to!
“Why haven’t you fixed him?”
“W-we’ve tried!” She flinched when glared. “Detective Eddie Thawne’s curse was cured by his fiancee, but we don’t know who Barry loves‒”
“Oh shit!” Cisco shouted, his brain quickly making connections he’d rather not make. “You’re the secret boyfriend!” He jabbed a finger at Cold, which was promptly slapped away. “The one he was worried about us meeting. You two are always weirdly intense when he shows up at your heists. And why else would you come storming in here because Barry ‒your boyfriend‒ hasn’t been answering your calls and has been standing you up on your weird little hero/villain dates?!” He knew he was screaming, but he couldn’t stop. Barry’s secret boyfriend was Captain Cold?!
“Geez, Ramon. That right there is why we didn’t want to tell any of you goody-two shoes yet.”
Caitlin decided it would be better to process this new information later, after she’s had a bottle of wine.
“Snart, you have to kiss Barry.”
“If you are Barry’s ‘true love’‒”
“Be quiet, Cisco! Do you want Barry to be in a coma forever? No? Then let me finish!” She took a deep breath. “Snart, if you are Barry’s ‘true love’, then you kissing him should lift the meta’s curse. It worked for Eddie and Iris, but nobody else has worked for Barry. You could be our last hope at getting him back.”
Cold, who had remained still during Caitlin’s explanation, tensed. It was probably just their imagination that the temperature of the room dropped when he next spoke. “What do you mean ‘nobody else worked’? Just how many people have kissed him?”
Caitlin squeaked. “W-we‒ They were just trying to help.”
Snart hummed. “I’m going to need names, but first…” Leonard looked down at his peacefully sleeping Speedster. It pissed him off that others had had their mouths on those pouty lips, but he’d take care of that later. He leaned down, pausing just inches away. What if this didn’t work? True love’s kiss. That’s what they said would undo the curse. He knew he had developed strong feelings for the kid, but did Barry feel the same way for him? What if he did? If Len kissed him and it worked‒ Was he ready to admit that to Barry? Either way, he couldn’t leave him like this. It was unnatural for Barry to be so quiet and still. He needed him back.
Closing the distance between them, he captured Barry’s soft lips with his own. For a moment he thought nothing had happened and was prepared to make a hasty retreat. However, when he pulled back, pretty hazel eyes blinked up at him before he found his arms full of Scarlet Speedster.
“I knew you’d save me, Len.” Barry mumbled from where he had his face tucked against Leonard’s chest. “My white knight.” He chuckled when Len groaned at the title, but couldn’t really deny it given the situation.
Seeing Doctor Snow dragging a gaping Cisco from the room, he figured it was safe to embrace the moment without ruining his reputation. After all, it wasn’t everyday you realized you had found true love.
“Anything for you, my Sleeping Barry.”