The Loneliness of Company

Chapter 4

Cisco looked around the gray room. It was formless; edgeless. His chest was tight and Cisco knew he was waiting for… something.

Suddenly there was an audible pressure release and another young man appeared in front of him. The boy pushed his hair out of his face and looked around the room in confusion until he met Cisco’s eyes.

“Dude,” the boy breathed.

Cisco blinked. Rubbed his eyes.

Still there.

The boy looked exactly like him. Different clothes but that was where the differences ended. His eyes widened. “You’re… me.”

“I… guess?” the boy answered. “Cisco Ramon?”

“Yup.”

The boy nodded slowly, thinking. Suddenly a light lit his eyes. “Oh,” he breathed. “You’re parallel. Like that sand dude and the Atom Smasher.”

Cisco frowned. “Who?”

Waving away his question, the boy came closer. “Are you from an alternate universe? That’s what’s happening to me, right? I can see alternate timelines?”

If Cisco had an answer, he would have given it. Instead, he shrugged. “How should I know? I’m having the same problem.”

“Oh.” The other Cisco sighed disappointedly. “It is… scary for you too?”

Cisco nodded. “Terrifying.” He pursed his lips. “It's good that you have friends.”

The boy’s brows creased. “What do you mean?”

“You’ve got Caitlynn and all those other people.”

“And you don’t?”

“No.”

“What happened?”

Cisco gulped. He almost didn’t want to tell him. But he did. “Caitlynn and Dr. Wells both died in the explosion. I, um, I live in London now.”

The boy opened his mouth and then closed it again as a complex set of emotions spread across his face. Shock, sadness, fear. Suddenly, he seemed to come to a mental halt. “But how is Barry still fighting all the bad guys? They would have overridden the world if he didn’t stop them.”

“I don’t know?” Cisco cocked his head. “There’s some kind of… vigilante or something who keeps taking care of them. A red streak. I don’t really watch the news. Is that who you mean?”

Slowly, the boy nodded. Cisco could still see the confusion shifting through his eyes. After a moment, the boy shrugged. “Either way, you’ve got to know someone in London.”

“Not really. Literally, the only guy I’ve really talked to is a sociopathic detective I hallucinate about. Not to mention he thinks he’s from another universe.”

There was a beat of silence and then, “You need to get out more.”

Cisco rolled his eyes. “Thanks. I haven’t been in the mood.”

Suddenly the boy pointed. “Wait. That’s it! We’re not just remembering alternate timelines.” He looked like he was on the verge of a verbal waterfall. “You said the guy thinks he’s from another universe?”

Cisco wasn’t following. “Um…”

“Maybe it’s not just me that I see. We’re seeing everything from other timelines.” A small frown dipped the other-Cisco’s lips and he rubbed the bridge of his nose. Headache. “That’s why I knew how to find the sand guy,” he whispered. “He was from a parallel universe.”

Cisco blinked, processing. That made a horrible amount of sense. (Then again, he was talking to himself, of course it did). Quiet, Cisco looked down at his feet. The part of him that was a comic geek was twisting about trying to be interested, but he hushed it. He couldn’t afford to be, interested; naive. Perhaps this other-Cisco could be. But that Cisco hadn’t watched all of his friends die.

For a long moment both Cisco’s stared at each other, quietly assessing. Cisco could see easily that the other him was far from impressed by what he saw. Which made sense. A man is made by his friends, as they say. Cisco was alone. The other Cisco was not. It seemed to make all the difference.

Cisco knew what would happen if he stayed fearful like this forever. He’d grow old inside. Never visit his family. Never move on. He was so bloody terrified of himself and if he didn’t get over it soon, he never would.

Did he want that?

No. He wanted so badly to be the young man standing in front of him. Sure, that Cisco was afraid. He was still learning. He wasn’t perfect. Maybe he was even a bit naïve.

But he wasn’t alone.

And Cisco didn’t to be. Not anymore.


Cisco decided that ignoring his ‘dilemma’ was the solution for the moment. He popped a Twizzler into his mouth and stared sightlessly at his apartment. It was a mess. Candy wrappers. Magazines. Empty pizza boxes. Bits of experiments. A wall stain (from an accident involving black power) was covered by a calendar that was off by seven months. Everything tilted just a bit. A conglomeration of a life too busy to clean. The television was on but covered by a blanket. He just wanted the sound. (Was it pathetic that the voices made him feel less alone?)

*This is Linda Park in Central City. We have just witnessed the Red Streak face a giant man-shark and it appears that he has…*

Cisco fumbled for the remote and powered off the device.

Seriously? He had been certain that dream was just the Mexican food.

Guess not.

Cisco sighed and rubbed his eyes. No matter. He had other things to focus on. Like his complete turd bag move last night. He shouldn’t have run. He should have stayed to see what happened. Sherlock was alive but what if he was hurt? Not running off would have been the less than completely idiotic thing to do.

Maybe he should figure out a way to contact them? Cisco squirmed. He should. Hadn’t he just challenged himself to let people in?

But they’d ask him about-

No. He wasn’t thinking about that.

He was thinking about… them? Sure. Yes, Sherlock and John. Stuck in a parallel universe or something. He could focus on their strange problems. They needed to get home, he assumed.

A sudden knock in the door broke his thoughts like glass. Cisco jumped up, knocking over a mostly empty can of soda. He hissed in irritation, righted the Dr. Pepper, and scrambled to the door.

Cisco jerked it open and Sherlock Holmes stood on his doorstep like some kind of majestic demigod. Releasing a sigh of relief, Cisco pulled the door open wider. “Oh, thank God,” he breathed. “You’re okay.”

Before he could think about it, Cisco stepped forward and embraced the man. Sherlock stiffened and instantly Cisco jerked back. “Right. Sorry. I’m just, like, really glad you’re not… you know.”

“Dead?” Sherlock murmured with slight humor. “I can take a hit, Cisco.”

“I didn’t mean to- to-”

“It’s of no consequence,” the detective interrupted, “I should not have pushed you. I am the one in fault.”

Cisco smiled tiredly. “The way you talk is the epitome of British-ness.” He stepped back. “Do you want to come in?”

Sherlock narrowed his eyes but nodded. Soon Sherlock was standing in the living room. He wrinkled his nose at the obvious mess. “Americans…”

“Hey,” Cisco countered from the kitchen. He walked back in with a pointing finger, picked up his can of soda, threw it away and quickly went looking for another one. “That’s racist, or… something like that. Besides, your flat is just as much of a mess.”

Sherlock sat down at a small table and pursed his lips. “You’ve never been to my flat.”

“Nope.” Cisco popped the P and didn’t explain. He came back with two cans and plopped one in front of Sherlock. “Bend your almighty dignity and have some pop. I sort of hate tea so I don’t ever buy any.”

Sherlock raised his eyebrows but didn’t speak. Actually, he rather appreciated Cisco’s no-nonsense attitude. “You’re… calmer,” he rumbled quietly.

“Yup. I mean, I guess.”

“Why?”

Cisco shrugged, picking at a chipped edge of the table. “I talked with someone. He made me realize some things.”

“May I ask who?”

“No.”

Sherlock glared at him, but Cisco didn’t back down. Finally Sherlock sighed and sat back. He pursed his lips. “Cisco, I-”

Cisco cringed. “Don’t.”

“Don’t, what?”

“Don’t try to be apologetic. From what I’ve seen, you’re awful at it.”

For a long moment, Sherlock wasn’t sure how to respond. Finally, he settled on a relieved look. Honesty. “Thank God. I wasn’t looking forward to it.”

Smirking, Cisco met his eyes. “Moving on?”

“Yes, definitely.” Sherlock cleared his throat. “I have questions.”

“So do I. Me first?” It wasn’t a real question.

Sherlock crossed his arms. It was clear in Cisco’s sharp eyes that if he wanted to talk at all, Cisco would be the one to dictate the conversation. “Fine,” he muttered grumpily. “Ask away.”

Quickly, Cisco smiled. “First. You’re from a parallel universe?”

“Yes. You believe that now?”

“As I said, I talked to a guy. Moving on, how did that happen?”

Chewing his lip, Sherlock sat forward. “I was… investigating something. A murder in an American graveyard when a… I’m not quite sure what to call it. A portal? Gap? Rip? Either way, it opened up a few minutes after I located this bloody gravestone. Literally bloody.”

Cisco frowned thoughtfully. “That must have opened up because of the events in the…” He stopped; cleared his throat. “Anyway, continue.”

Sherlock frowned but complied. “I don’t recall much. It pulled us into the sky and when we woke up, the versions of us from this universe were gone and we were… here. We’ve been trying to find a way back since. I don’t think we can survive here indefinitely.”

Cisco nodded thoughtfully. “You don’t exist properly, so you’ll just stop existing, probably. Geez, that’s awful. Who was with you?”

“John and my brother Mycroft.”

Nodding, Cisco set down his pop. “Alright. Makes sense. I mean, it doesn’t, but I’m suspending my logic for the moment. You need to get home.”

“Precisely. Any other questions?”

“Yes. Why do you keep searching for me?”

Sherlock blinked. Of course. Cisco wouldn’t know. “I saw your file and nicked it from my brother. You were interesting with your blurry pictures, but…”

“What?”

“The gravestone. John was the one to remember, actually.”

Cisco was clearly lost. “What about it?”

“The gravestone was yours.”


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