The Loneliness of Company

Chapter 3

Cisco caught a cab with relative ease and stared down at his hands. They were shaking. Why was he always shaking? Gulping, he pulled at his hair for a moment but that didn’t stop the movement.

“You okay, kid?”

“Fine. Drop me off at the park by the library. The one at the edge of town.”

“It’s after dark. You sure about that?”

Cisco rolled his eyes, but the driver couldn’t see. “I’m sure.” A few minutes later, the cab costed to a stop. Cisco paid the man and soon he gripped the straps of his backpack and entered a grove of trees. No one could see him in here. His weapon was silent. He could distract himself experiment with his newest creation without interruption.

He pulled the gun from his backpack and aimed it into the air. He pressed the trigger and the shock wave shoved him to the ground. The leaves of the trees above him shot upward and several branches broke, flying into the air. Oh, that felt good.

Cisco ducked quickly and stumbled backward as an arm sized branch fell where he’d been standing. Woops. The rain of leaves and sticks lasted several seconds and Cisco snickered from a few feet away. Cool. What would happen if he aimed that at a building or an enemy?

He reached into his pocket for a screwdriver he nicked from the lab, but instead, his fingers met Sherlock’s napkin. Stilling, Cisco dropped the gun to his side and dug the paper scrap out of his pocket.

He held it up to the little light there was but instead of just feeling the usual tingle that squirmed down his back at the sight of the words, his vision cut off as well.

What.

Blue light bloomed and Cisco found himself in a pleasantly warm living room. The lights were too bright and everything blurred around him. He was fairly certain if he had anything in his stomach, he would puke.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” someone said. “Metas? No matter what’s on the news, this isn’t a comic book. It’s an alternate universe.”

“Is that what we’re calling ‘it’ now, John?” The detective lay on a couch, staring moodily at the ceiling.

A blonde man sat in an arm chair. John. He replied quickly. “That’s what it seems like.”

“Then it’s entirely probable that an alternate universe could have super humans.” He paused and exhaled slowly. “I should talk to him. Maybe he can help us.”

“You’ve only met him twice. How could you know if he’s a Meta or not?”

“I once testified in court against a man I knew for a shorter amount of time, you know that.”

“’S different.”

Shrugging, Sherlock stood abruptly and walked to the door. “There isn’t any other explanation for the glitches, John. Also, he used to work at StarLabs in Central City. The lone survivor. It would be strange if something wasn’t strange about him. We need to find him before he does something stupid.”

Sherlock grabbed a coat off a hook on the wall…

… And Cisco dropped to the ground, breathing heavily. The pine needles beneath him did little to soften the blow to his knees. He forced himself to let go of the napkin and curl his shaking fingers into fists. “What’s happening to me?” he whispered haltingly. Cisco’s thoughts were scattered and disheveled like a pile of windy leaves. His head pounded and he wanted nothing more than to curl into a ball and never move again.

But. He. Couldn’t. Stop. Shaking.

Pulling his knees to his chest, Cisco stared daggers at Sherlock’s handwriting. Suddenly Cisco snorted. He was terrified by a freaking napkin. How stupid was that?

Gulping, he reached forward carefully. He needed to know more. Why was this happening? How?

His shaking fingers were about to touch the napkin’s surface again when he pulled back. What was he doing? He didn’t understand this… thing. He wasn’t sure he wanted to.

What had Sherlock said? Meta? Sherlock thought he was one of the Metas from Central City.

Was he? Cisco drew away from the thought distastefully, but he couldn’t dismiss it. It connected the dots. Really weird, disconnected, hallucinated dots. Dots all the same.

Or maybe he’d just imagined the entire exchange. He was going crazy. Besides, parallel universes? Intriguing, but seriously? No. Sherlock wasn’t really out looking for-

At that moment twig snapped behind him and before Cisco knew what he was doing, he flew to his feet, arms extended.

A dark figure quickly pulled into view and Cisco blinked. “What?”

Sherlock Holmes frowned. His coat was wrapped around him tightly and John stood slightly behind the detective. Raising a skeptic eyebrow at Cisco’s extended arms, Sherlock snorted. “What exactly were you expecting to do? Slap me?”

Cisco glanced down at his automatic stance and dropped his hands sheepishly. He didn’t know what he’d been planning.

But that didn’t matter. What did matter, was that he’d just seen Sherlock decide to deduce his location and find him. He saw them talk about alternate realities. Metas.

And now here he was. What did that mean?

It wasn’t a hallucination and Cisco couldn’t pretend that it was.

For a long moment, no one said anything. Finally, “What do you want?”

Sherlock ignored his question and John stepped forward to give Cisco a soft look that Cisco couldn’t quite decipher. Cisco gulped. John was the same man from his hallucination.

“I suppose you’re, Cisco,” John said. “I’m-”

“-John.” Cisco interrupted. He pursed his lips worriedly. He shouldn’t know that. “Yeah, I know.”

John opened his mouth, but Sherlock stopped him with a raised hand. “We need to talk to you.”

“No,” Cisco countered immediately. “You don’t.”

“I’ve come to a conclusion.”

Cisco snorted. Sudden anger rushed through him. “What? You’ve ‘solved me’? Good on you, detective. In case you didn’t notice, I’m not a math problem.”

“Obviously. You’re much more than that.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

This was a bad idea, standing here. He should have run off the moment he heard Sherlock come up. Cisco didn’t want to talk. He didn’t want some detective studying his life; coming to strange conclusions. Cisco was terrified as it was. Quickly, he shoved his gun into his backpack. His movements were jerky and uncontrolled. “Look, I know what you think. But I’m not- it’s not like that. I’m not one of… them. If anything, all three of us are insane and that’s all.” He was babbling now. “I’m just trying to live my life like a freaking normal person and none of you are making it any easier. I left my home for a reason and I don’t care if you are from a parallel universe, I want to be alone and…”

Wait.

Did he say that last part out loud?

Both men looked suitably shocked and it took a moment for Cisco to register why. “I mean,” he stuttered, “or where ever.”

John shot Sherlock a look. “You told him?”

“No.”

Cisco’s hands were shaking so bad he couldn’t zip up his jacket. Instead, he gripped the straps of his pack and backed out of the grove, nearly tripping. He’d been right about the parallel universe thing too. He was shivering continuously. It made his bones ache and rattle.

Sherlock shouted after him and Cisco didn’t care. He picked up the pace but knew he could never outrace the taller man. For a long time, he just walked, not caring where he was headed. Sherlock followed him and Cisco boiled. Eventually he laid a hand on Cisco’s heaving shoulders.

Slowly Cisco turned and locked eyes with the detective. “I said, leave me alone.” A sudden rush of fear and adrenaline and anger shot through Cisco. Why wouldn’t they just let him be?

His breath hitched and suddenly a rippling wave of… force? Energy? Sound? rushed from the fingertips of a hand he hadn’t realized was raised.

Sherlock flew backward like a fabric doll and slammed into the concrete ten feet away.

Instantly horror and shock replaced Cisco’s anger. He opened and closed his mouth repeatedly, frozen, until John came running. Racing to Sherlock’s crumpled form, John’s gaze flickered between him and Cisco.

“What did you do?” John whispered, pale. Cisco heard him loud and clear.

Cisco choked. “I- I don’t. I didn’t mean to- it was an…”

But John wasn’t listening. He raced to Sherlock’s side and quickly took his pulse.

Oh God, please don’t let him be dead.

A strong beat sounded beneath John’s fingertips and John exhaled in relief. Quickly, he stood up. “Cisco! Cisco, it’s alright. He’s- he’s… fine…”

Cisco didn’t wait a moment longer. He ran.


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