Flash tag: Soft Landing Place

I wrote a tag to tonight's Flash episode. Spoilery, obviously, and hard to describe without giving away details.

Title: Soft Landing Place
Fandom: The Flash
Word Count: 1900
Pairing: team gen
On AO3: Soft Landing Place

Summary and fic are under the cut.

Summary: Episode tag for 3x13. Everyone's safe and home; now it's just a matter of picking up the pieces. Also for my h/c bingo "group support" square.

"So, I have a question, and if you don't want to answer it, you don't have to."

The lights were dimmed in the Cortex medbay. Caitlin had a blood pressure cuff on Harry's arm, and she spoke without looking at him, her eyes on the computer screen over the bed. Out in the Cortex proper, the laughing voices of the team drifted in to her. No one had left yet; they'd ordered pizza delivery, and after Harry had wolfed down most of a pizza by himself, she'd finally succeeded in dragging him off to do a full check of his vitals and make him lie down for awhile. He already looked half asleep, but he stirred when she spoke.

"Go ahead." His voice was tired, barely more than a scratchy whisper. She had a feeling he'd been working hard to hold it together for the team, and especially for Jesse, which was one reason why she'd played her medical-professional trump card and gotten him off to a quiet, semi-private place as soon as he'd had a chance to eat.

"What do you remember?" she asked gently.

Silence from the bed, while she clipped an oxygen monitor to his finger. Then he said softly, "Not much. Pieces, here and there. I didn't really retain much from when Grodd ..." He hesitated, moved a hand in a slow circle. "When he, you know. When he had me under his control."

"I know," she said, and looked down at him. He'd turned his face away -- away from her, away from the team out in the Cortex -- and was gazing blankly at the wall. "I do know, Harry. Remember that. I know what it's like to have Grodd in your head, and I also know what it's like to be held prisoner for weeks."

This made him look up at her, and a smile flickered at the corner of his mouth. "I guess you do." A brief hesitation, then: "He didn't control me all the time. When he wasn't, I was just ... locked up in a cage. Like all of you were." The somewhat tight smile faded, and the expression that replaced it was painful to look at. "My team?"

Jesse's words came back to her: ten people, dead. "Not your fault," she told him.

"Ah. God." The words came out on a breath, as if she'd punched him, and he squeezed his eyes shut. "They're dead, aren't they. Every last one. I knew it, when they weren't in that dungeon with me --"

"I said, not your fault. They chose to go with you, every last one." She hesitated before resting a hand on his shoulder. Under the grimy black sweater, she could feel the point of his acromion and the ligaments and deltoid attachments. If she'd pressed harder than this gentle pressure, a diagnostic touch rather than a comforting one, she could almost have used him as an anatomy lesson. He'd lost weight noticeably as Grodd's prisoner.

She wanted to help -- as his doctor and his friend. But she knew from her own experience that there wasn't much to be done. She doubted Harry would want to talk to any sort of professional, here or on Earth-2. As for the rest of it, all they could really do was what they'd already done: pick him up, put him somewhere safe. Give him a soft place to land.

A burst of laughter from the Cortex drifted in to them. Caitlin looked over, through the glass, and saw Jesse give Cisco a playful shove, almost causing him to go over backwards in the chair he was leaning back in. Barry had his elbows on a workbench and Iris leaning on his shoulder. The rest of them were sprawled and draped around the room, relaxed and happy and playful. Victory, she thought. They'd had a big win, and everyone was feeling it.

Harry had followed her gaze. "They came for me," he murmured. "You -- all of you came."

He was very sleepy; she could see him starting to drift. She wondered if he'd really slept at all in that horrible place in the last two weeks, at least any more than the catnaps he'd needed to keep himself functional. "I seem to have a memory of you walking into Grodd's lair to get me out, not so long ago," she said, giving his shoulder a comforting press of her hand before she began unclipping the various monitors she'd attached. "You help us, we help you. That's what it means to be part of a team." Part of a family, she thought. Because that was what they were, all of them here. Harry and Jesse included, even when they were far away.

"Lair," Harry scoffed sleepily.

"Den? Gorilla habitat? Nitpicker." She rotated the screen so he could see his readouts. "Except for being banged around a little, and I've already given you a painkiller for that, it looks like you've got a clean bill of health. You're a little dehydrated, but I won't put you on an IV if you promise to drink plenty of fluids over the next twenty-four hours." She smiled. "Doctor's orders."

"I think I can manage to follow that prescription." To her surprise, he caught her hand and squeezed it lightly before letting go. "Snow," he whispered. "Thanks."

"You've have done the same for any of us. Have done the same, in fact, as I can personally attest."

There was a soft tap at the open doorway to the medbay, and Barry leaned in. "How is he?"

"He's fine," Harry grumbled. "He doesn't need to be hovered over."

"We will hover as much as we like." Jesse slipped in past Barry and pulled up a stool on the other side of the bed. "Hi, Dad."

"Hi, honey."

Jesse leaned down to hug him, and Caitlin was near enough to see the way he relaxed into it.

"He really is fine," Caitlin said, looking up to find that the rest of them had crowded in too, Cisco looking unconvincingly nonchalant with his arms folded and his hip resting against the doorframe, Joe with an arm draped over Barry's shoulders. "Rest, food, sleep, fluids. The usual prescription."

And this, she thought, looking at them. This is a prescription money can't buy.

Barry reached over and gave Harry a quick pat on the arm. "Well, Iris and I are heading out. Harry, you need to come over and see our new place, you and Jesse. You missed the housewarming."

"Oh no," Jesse said, grinning. She'd finally pulled back from the hug, but her hand was firmly entwined in her dad's. Harry, for his part, looked like he was five seconds from falling asleep. "And there we were, stuck on another Earth, fighting crime."

"We've got a great view and a pet turtle. You gotta come over before you guys leave." Barry wrapped an arm around Iris's waist. "Hey, Joe, you wanna lift home?"

"No, I do not want a lift -- augh!" Joe's yelp Dopplered and they were all three gone in a flash of Barry's speed.

"And on that note," Caitlin said, clasping her hands together, "I really think we should all get some sleep. It's been a very long day -- hey!"

Something hurtled past her head, which turned out to be a juice box, thrown by Cisco in Harry's general direction. Jesse was the one who caught it -- otherwise, from the trajectory, it would've hit Harry in the face -- and set it carefully on the nearest lab table.

"Fluids," Cisco announced. This new deadpan Cisco, the more subdued version of him since Dante's death, was a little harder to read than he had been when she'd first worked with him -- but there was no mistaking the warm glow of affectionate humor in his eyes, the smile dancing around the edges of his mouth. "Try not to get caught by gorillas next time, Harry."

Harry mustered enough energy to raise his head. "Ramon, if you ever come up with a plan again that involves killing yourself, I will end you, got that?"

"That threat makes no actual sense."

"It's still a threat. Have you ever known me not to follow through on a threat?"

"Right. Leaving now. Peace out, you guys." Cisco fluttered his fingers in a wave and withdrew.

"I'm leaving too. Jesse, there's a bed made up downstairs. Two beds, actually." Caitlin smiled. "We keep that room for you when you're not here."

"I know. Caitlin --" Jesse lunged for her and hugged her. Caitlin wasn't expecting it; she staggered a little as Jesse's arms wrapped around her and the teenager gripped her with unexpected strength. "Thank you," Jesse whispered. "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

"It's okay. Hey. You haven't stopped being part of the team just because you went to another Earth." Caitlin patted her back, and when Jesse showed no signs of letting go, smoothed down her hair gently: the way she used to want her mother to do for her, a long time ago. "We'll always come when you need us. Always, Jesse."

"I know." Jesse pulled away. She wasn't quite crying, but her eyes looked red, and she swiped at her nose. "It's just -- it was just me and Dad for so long. I ... thanks. Thank you." She looked up, her eyes bright. "Say ... do you know where Wally went?"

"I don't, but if I see him, I'll send him your way." Caitlin took a step away from the bed, then realized she hadn't heard anything from Harry in ... well, a minute or two, at least. She turned back to find him passed out, dead to the world.

Jesse picked up his hand and stood looking down at him, rubbing her thumb across his knuckles. "He's gonna be okay, right?"

"He's gonna be just fine. Make sure he drinks fluids and gets enough calories. That's all he really needs, that and sleep." She gave Jesse a gentle smile. "Do you want me to walk you down to your room, or you want to stay here for awhile?"

"I think I'll sit with him for a little while. Just 'til he's definitely asleep."

"I think that's a great idea. Good night."

"Night," Jesse said, with a flicker of a smile.

Caitlin retrieved her damp coat from the back of a chair. She put a couple pieces of pizza into an unused samples container (what; it was a perfectly decent breakfast, full of calories for quick energy) and, as she left, looked back at Harry, sleeping, with his daughter holding his hand.

No more hold than Grodd had had over her, she still had nightmares about it. Far worse was her captivity with Jay, when he had exercised the power of life or death over her, killed people in front of her, and ultimately called into question everything she'd believed about herself. It had taken her a long time to climb back from that.

She hoped it wouldn't be that bad for Harry. What it came down to was that what had happened to him was bad, but he'd bounced back from a lot worse.

And we'll all be there for you, if you need us. I hope you know that.

She tucked her hands into her pockets and turned away, out into the night.

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