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Title: In the dead of night
Fandom: The Flash (2014)
Wordcount: 794
Rating: G
Characters: Barry Allen, Hartley Rathaway
Summary: Barry has trouble sleeping, and he decides to go for a run. Meeting Hartley is an unexpected but not unwelcome coincidence.

Barry wasn't sure about the time, probably a few hours after midnight if the absolute silence of the street outside was any indication. It was dark, the faint moonlight entering his room just enough to make it possible to see the outline of the furniture, and if he moved his head to the side a little and squinted he could make out a couple of stars on the sky outside through his window.

Waking up after only a few hours of sleep wasn't a rare occurrence, his body seemingly not needing as much rest anymore, and Barry knew that if he didn't wear off some energy there was no hope of getting any more sleep that night. So he got up, wore some comfortable clothes and silently left the house.

Jogging through Central City at human speed was a nice change for once, the chilly night breeze caressing his face and the almost silence of that hour putting him in a good mood. Barry kept away from the busy parts of the city and made his way towards the outskirts, thinking about making a sprint towards Starling to pay Team Arrow a visit before running back home. If he was lucky, he could get a few more hours of rest before it was time for work.

But as he was passing in front of a decrepit looking apartment building, Barry found himself slowing down and stopping, his attention suddenly diverted by melancholy music coming from the entrance of the building. There, sitting on the steps and almost hidden in the shadow, was someone playing a flute.

There was something in the melody that made Barry want to stand there and listen to it for a long time. It was sad, yet sweet, and he couldn't resist taking a few steps towards the stranger. But as he got close enough to make out the person's features, he realized it wasn't really a stranger.

"Hartley?" Barry didn't mean to say it out loud, and was surprised by the sound of his own voice. He put a hand in front of his mouth when he realized what he had done, but it was too late, the music had stopped.

Hartley's body visibly tensed, and as he raised his eyes, Barry could see the wary look in them. They stared at each other for a few seconds, the poorly lit and now silent street giving off an almost lugubrious vibe, then, as they both realized the other wasn't going to do anything, they slowly relaxed again.

The one to break the silence was Hartley, speaking up with his usual condescending tone. "Hello, Flash. Or should I say Barry? From your clothes it looks like you aren't out to catch criminals tonight."

"Yeah, I'm not the one truly living up to their namesake here." the small smile on Barry's face was genuine. There was something incredibly relaxing about jogging through the city in the dead of the night, making it so easy to feel at peace with everything. If the man wasn't going to give him a reason to act, he'd just leave him be.

Hartley kept quiet for a moment, then returned the smile. Putting the flute down on his lap he looked at it and spoke up again, this time his voice sounding more friendly. "Fresh air and some music are usually good when I have trouble sleeping. I didn't expect company, though."

Barry made an agreeing noise, busy stretching his arms and legs to cool down after his run, and Hartley stole a glance at him, decidedly appreciating the show. His hair was sticking a little to his head, and the sweater he was wearing was just over-sized enough to give a glimpse of his collarbone.

"Running is usually my answer to sleeping troubles."

"I bet running is your answer to everything." Hartley couldn't stop himself from saying it, and immediately regretted his words when Barry shot him an annoyed look. But then the speedster shrugged and walked up the few steps of the building, sitting down next to him.

"You're wrong, sometimes moving my arms really fast is also a good solution." Barry said, trying to look serious but unable to suppress a grin. "But music does sound like a nice idea."

The hopeful tone and the puppy smile were too much for Hartley to resist.

"I never thought I would be playing lullabies for the Flash."

There wasn't a lot of space on the steps, and they were sitting close enough to bump their knees together. Hartley decided there was no reason to completely waste this unexpected chance, so he shuffled a little closer to Barry until their thighs were touching, then raised the flute back up to his lips and started playing again.

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