The Loneliness of Company

Chapter 6

How strange, to be back in Central City. Cisco recognized the streets. He spotted random statues he’d seen in passing on occasion. Everything was busy and loud and crowded like it usually was and Cisco realized he didn’t mind it. He was waiting for Sherlock to ‘kidnap’ him, and he figured he might as well look normal and get a drink.

What was ever weirder about this situation was that he was doing something so totally mundane it felt incredibly strange in comparison to the last year. He walked into a small, hip coffee shop and breathed in the smell of coffee beans, new paint, and cinnamon.

Jitters, he read.

Yeah, he could relate to that.

Something nagged the back of his mind and he stopped in the doorway. It took a moment, but he recognized that meta-crap… feeling he got before-

Too late.

He sucked in a breath and the lighting in the room changed, taking on a blue, shaky tint. One man stood in the center of the shop, his shoulders slumped. The entire coffee shop had been thrown into disarray like a dinosaur tried to order a mocha or something.

“I don’t understand,” the man whispered. He idly kicked a fallen chair. “Why don’t they remember? Why doesn’t he remember?”

Surprised, Cisco stepped forward so that he could see the man’s face. He recalled his name suddenly. “Barry,” Cisco whispered.

Barry Allen’s shoulders remained slumped as he spoke. “Cisco Ramon, if you’re seeing this, from some place, some time, some universe. I… you need to know that this world; this one we created, is just as flawed as the one we remember.”

Cisco’s eyes widened. “You can see me?”

Barry sighed, righted a single chair amid the disaster, and sat down heavily. He didn’t respond. Scrubbing his face, his eyes darted quickly around the room, looking for something he couldn’t see.

No, Barry didn’t know Cisco was watching. He just hoped he was.

“People die,” he croaked. “Good people. People that shouldn’t. But… I am glad we changed it. Maybe it’s selfish of me. I’m not the person I was and I’m relieved.” He frowned at his hands. “Sometimes I don’t remember. Not at all. And then it all comes rushing back and I…” Suddenly he shivered. “Oh gosh, Cisco, I wish you remembered. I wish you would tell me what’s going on in your head.” The man dropped his head into his hands and then suddenly the air stung of electricity. With a flash of light, he fled.

The lights flickered on again and nausea filled Cisco's stomach. Cisco took in a shaky breath, only barely registering someone in front of him. What on Earth was that? He was going to keep seeing things in the day now too?

“Dude. Hey. Hellllllo? Are you alright?”

Cisco blinked, realizing the young man was addressing him. “Um.” He coughed. “Oh. Yeah, sorry, I’m fine. Am I in your way? Sorry. I mean, uh… already said that. Here.”

He shifted to the side, still shaking, and held open the door.

“Thanks,” the young man supplied with a laugh.

“No prob.” Cisco smiled tightly at the man and turned away. The door shut behind him and Cisco began walking to get in line when…

Wait.

That was-

The chances of a meeting like that were monumental and he loved it. Instantly his heart sped. “Idiot,” he hissed. Spinning, around, Cisco dug his phone out of his pocket and scrambled back to the door.

Multiple people shouted their complaints at him and he ignored their exclamations. Where did the man go? Shoving open the door, Cisco stumbled on the street and looked to the right and to the left. Crowds of bustling people either way.

“Crap.” Holding up his phone, Cisco quickly dialed Sherlock’s number.

“What are you doing?” the detective picked up almost immediately.

Cisco was still shaking from the vision, but he did his best to sound steady. “Ditch the plan. I found Barry. Get down here and help me catch him.”

There was a pause and muffled voices through the phone. Cisco raced through the crowd. No. Nata. Nope. Why did he let him go?

“We’ll be there in… three minutes. Are you sure it’s him? How are we supposed to-?”

“There!” Cisco pointed, even though he didn’t know if Sherlock could see. “I spotted him.” With that, he disconnected and took off through the crowd.

“Sorry.”

“Woops.”

“Oh my gosh. That was totally an accident. I’d stay but- but I’ve got to... Yeah.”

And then he finally reached shouting distance. “Barry!” he cried.

Barry Allen turned, confused. His hair was dirty blond instead of the brown and he wore a pair of geeky glasses. Other than that, he appeared to be exactly the same man Cisco had just seen.

“Barry Allen! Don’t move!”

Barry finally spotted him as Cisco ran up. Cisco gasped for a moment, catching his breath. “You… are… really fast.” The idiocy of that statement hit him a moment later and he snorted.

Barry Allen was staring at him. “You’re the guy in the coffee shop. Do I know you?”
Cisco nodded and then shook his head. “No. Not… here.” Urgency overtook him and the words poured from his mouth before he could stop them. “We’ve been searching for you because we need your help. You’re the only one who can fix this mess.”

Frowning, Barry took his arm and pulled them to the side, out of the way. He looked confused. “I’m sorry. I think you’ve got the wrong guy. I’m a forensic scientist. Unless someone’s been murdered, I don’t know how much help I’ll-“

“Nonono,” Cisco interrupted. “Look.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “I know who you are. I know what you can do. You’re the red streak.”

A flicker of emotions flew across Barry’s face. Suddenly Barry stiffened…

… And Cisco’s back was against a brick wall in an alleyway somewhere else. That was fast. Barry’s hand pinned him against the wall. Cisco sucked in a quick breath. “Hey, hey, calm down. I need your help that’s-”

“How do you know?” Barry hissed.

“I…” Cisco looked pointedly down at Barry’s hand. “If you wouldn’t mind taking it down a bit. Let’s have a normal conversation, alright?”

Slowly, Barry removed his hand, still staring dangerously at Cisco. He backed up a bit. After a moment, he bit his lip sheepishly. “Sorry. Talk.”

Cisco nodded. The more he spoke, the more he remembered. “Right. Short version. In an alternate timeline, universe, whatever, you and I are friends. Good friends. I help you catch the bad guys. That’s how I know who you are. Now, my other friends need your help. They got stuck in this universe when we opened a singularity in that other universe, which opened gateways between different universes. You’re the only person I know who can run fast enough to open a wormhole again. They need to get home because I’m not sure what exactly the effect could be, but I don’t think that someone who doesn’t belong in this universe can stay here forever without messing up crap.” He took a deep breath. “Get it?”

Barry blinked. “What?”

Before Cisco could respond, several pairs of feet came jogging around the corner. Cisco glanced behind Barry and spotted Sherlock, John, and Mycroft. Sherlock had his phone out, probably tracking Cisco.

Sherlock met Cisco’s eyes.

Barry looked behind him and was suspicious immediately. “Who are-?”
“-My friends,” Cisco interrupted, quickly. “Sherlock Holmes, his brother, Mycroft, and John Watson.” He gestured at Barry. “Guys… Barry Allen. The streak”

They all nodded in turn and soon they were all standing in a loose circle. Barry fidgeted. His eyes zipped up and down the newcomers and then back to Cisco. He frowned, skeptic. “They’re from another universe?”

“Alternate,” John corrected. “Can you help us?”

Carefully, Barry shook his head. “I don’t know. I’ve never run that fast… ever.” Suddenly his eyes lit up. “Dr. Wells needs to know about this.”

It took a moment for those words to register and when they did, Cisco took a step back. “Dr. Wells is… dead.”

Now Barry was confused. “Officially, yes. Secretly, no. He saved my life after I got hit by lightning. He’s been training me ever sense. I assumed you were aware because…” He trailed off, seeing Cisco’s wide eyes. “Wait. Do you know him?”

Cisco felt like shutting down. Like an overloaded computer. This was too much. Again. He let out a small, sick sounding laugh. “I used to work with him. I thought… I thought…”

“You thought wrong.”

Cisco stiffened even further at the voice. He knew that sound. He knew it intimately. Slowly Cisco swiveled around. Vaguely he registered Barry’s words.

“About time.”

But he wasn’t listening. All he could see was the man standing at the entrance of the alley. Nothing else existed. Cisco tried to speak, but his voice came out quivering.

“Dr. Wells?”

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