chapter twenty-six ; piece by piece

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Natalie sang quietly to herself as she leaned back in her chair and used her feet to propel her in a slow circle, "I am so glad we got these swivel chairs, they make everything more fun."

Barry simply hummed in response and continued to finish up examining the evidence he was working on. "Done," Barry exclaimed as he slammed his pen down and pulled off his gloves.

"And does that mean we are free from work? I am starving," Natalie whined, rubbing her belly for effect.

Barry chuckled and pulled his coat over his sweater, "We'll swing by Big Belly Burger but I need to come back here. I need to find out everything I can about Dr. Wells."

Natalie walked over to Barry, running her thumb over his hand, "Not just you, Barry. We're in this together now. You, me, and Joe. Whoever Dr. Wells is, we're gonna figure it out. But are you sure we can't tell Caitlin and Cisco? It really worries me how much trust they put in him."

"We can't tell them yet. We don't have any proof," Barry explained, shaking his head.

Accepting that fact, Barry took her hand and the two walked to Big Belly Burger.

"When we were little, Caitlin and I would always sleep over at each other's houses. Well, one year we did this during Halloween and it just happened to be the first year we were allowed to go trick-or-treating by ourselves. That year, we were both witches, with the hats and brooms and all of the works and there was a local haunted house, so we went. I remember being so scared that I started to use the broom as a sort of baseball bat and I hit anything that jumped out at us," Natalie shared as Barry burst out laughing. The two had been telling stories about their childhood as they sat at the table and ate their food.

"So put something in Natalie's hands and she's dangerous," Barry joked as he pictured the sight of the story.

Natalie smiled and shrugged, "Well what can I say, I told you I could handle myself. I am no damsel in distress."

Barry ran his tongue over his lips and rubbed his hands together, "Okay, my turn. Let's see..when I was almost 16, I begged Joe to teach me how to drive. When he finally gave in, we used the squad car because he didn't have any other car back then. So we're driving down the road and I see these kids who bullied me at school, so I turned on the sirens. It scared the hell out of them cause they thought they were getting arrested. I got in trouble with Joe of course but seeing their faces made it totally worth it," Barry said as he laughed at his own memory.

"Woah so young Barry was a rebel," Natalie laughed.

Barry nodded his head, "Yup, even smoked a cigarette."

"Okay, no. That's bad. Smoking kills, Barry," Natalie scolded as she threw a fry at him.

Using his speed, Barry caught it in between his teeth, "It was one time and it burned like hell."

"Good."

Silence ensued as the two continued to eat their food. Natalie watched Barry and pushed her plate in front of her, "Barry, can I ask you something?"

Barry finished chewing and swallowed, "Yeah, go ahead."

Tracing the rings of the wood on the table, Natalie pondered on whether or not she wanted to ask but decided to anyways, "A few days ago, you said you loved me."

Out of the corner of her eye she saw Barry tense up and a sort of frantic frenzy washed over his eyes, "Uh..yeah.." Barry didn't really know what else to say or what to expect.

Natalie looked up at him, her eyes soft and her voice gentle, "When did you know?"

Relaxing, Barry couldn't help but smile at himself, finally glad that he had the chance to tell her, "It didn't fully hit me until a few days ago. But ever since we met, in these moments together, I fell in love with you, piece by piece.

I remember seeing that smile on your face, the one that lights up a room, when we were getting on the elevator once. That was the first time a piece of me was yours.

Another time was when we were painting your house and you had a little bit of the mint green paint on your nose and in your hair. And the day I admitted to myself that I wanted to ask you out was when I fell for you yet again, even though you were drunk, it was adorable.

Also, when we had the water fight at Iris and Eddie's and I was holding you in the shower, keeping you from running away. And on our first date when we were pointing out shapes in the clouds. Those are just a few moments in which I fell in love with you.

But as I said, it didn't fully hit me until a few days ago. That night at your house, when we were both sleeping on the couch, that's when it fully hit. I had wondered before and I said out loud to myself that I loved you, but I didn't really know until then. Watching you sleep, your head against my chest, I just knew."

Barry looked up from the table to see Natalie staring at him, her eyes wet and a few tear marks trailing down her flushed cheeks. He picked up her hand and kissed her palm before placing it on his cheek, "I love you, Natalie Reed."

Natalie happily laughed a little in disbelief, causing a few more tears to fall from her eyes, "I'm scared. We haven't known each other for a long time.. It's scary."

Taking her hand off his cheek, Barry grabbed both of them and squeezed, "I know and I didn't mean to scare you by telling you. I'm not gonna push you to decide, Natalie. You know how I feel about you, and I'll wait. Even if it means in the end you realize you don't-"

Reaching across the table, Natalie pulled Barry's lips to hers, pouring all of her emotions into the kiss as she gripped the back of Barry's neck, "But it's unfair if I make you wait."

Barry pulled back and his lips formed into a frown, "Natalie, I don't want you to say it because you don't want to make me wait for that-"

"No Barry, listen," Nat said as she took his hands in hers this time. "I have spent the last few days thinking over it. And I'm not scared because you told me that. It scares me how fast that happened, how fast my feelings for you grew.

But what I thought about is the life that you live and the life I now am apart of. Our lifestyle, it's dangerous and life threatening. Any day, when you go out there to save people, one day you might never come back. I don't want that day to happen and you were still waiting.

So even though I am still terrified that this is all happening so quickly, I am not going to make you wait because frankly, I don't want to either. I love you, Barry Allen. And you were right, piece by piece, I fell in love with you too."

Barry's eyes were wet as he looked at her and simply nodded, unable to say anything. He never let her hand go as they left Big Belly Burger, walking back to Natalie's house instead of returning to the lab.

Barry held Natalie close as they snuggled together under the blankets, this time opting for the bed instead of the couch. Kissing softly under the covers, relishing under the others' touch, that night they understood each other. Natalie moved her head so that it was directly over Barry's heart as he traced patterns on her back.

"It's beating so fast," she murmured.

Barry chuckled lightly, "Yeah, side effect from getting struck by lightening. Comes along with the super speed."

"And the Lightening Psychosis?"

Playfully, Barry smacked Natalie's arm as she giggled.

"Goodnight, Natalie," Barry mumbled against her head as he planted a kiss amidst her hair. "I love you."

Natalie moved her head so that she could plant a few kisses on his lips before placing her head back over his heart, "Goodnight, Barry. I love you, too."

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