His dad, despite being the reason behind so many of his choices in life – mostly his career, but also, if he's being honest, his choice to give Len and Mick the benefit of the doubt – is probably the one who knows the least about his life with Len and Mick for the longest time. Which, well, that was never intentional, but...
It went something like this: Barry wanted to make sure what he had with Len and Mick was something real, something that would hold out for longer than a couple of months, before getting his dad's hopes up, because he preferred having good news for him, give him a reason to smile and maybe worry a little less about Barry. Finding out it was, had come hand-in-hand with Joe's betrayal, and Barry could not lose both of his dads. So he just...sat on it. And worried at it, and got distracted.
And Len and Mick, of course, neither of them were unobservant – though it wouldn't be until he found out who they were that Barry would understand the true reason they always seemed to notice when he was being twitchier than usual – so they eventually cornered him on the couch with his favorite ice cream – bribing him with food has always been their preferred way to get him to talk, especially in the early days of their relationship – and pushed until he spilled.
What happened the next day could probably have been classified as a kidnapping, but if Barry had known Len intended to drive them out to Iron Heights, he'd probably have freaked out, mostly because talking it out hadn't made him feel any better about the prospect of telling his dad he was in a relationship with two guys. So Len had, instead, told him he needed someone to come with him to the shops, since the item he needed for his current project was too large to fit in his motorcycle's panniers. (In those days, Barry hadn't known about the van they only used for heists that might need the extra space, or the rather stunning red jaguar that Mick had stolen in New York about a month before Barry'd met them, which there had still been an APB out on, as the original owner was desperate to have it back. Something about ten thousand dollars in cash stashed in the trunk?)
As it was, he'd still started trying to get Len to turn around once he recognized where they were headed, but Len was easily as stubborn as Barry was – he'd assumed that was the reason he'd taken him instead of Mick, but it was actually that Len had a favor he could call in with the prison warden if he was recognized, and his own father was inside, in case he needed an excuse for being there that wouldn't connect him to Barry – so he didn't listen, and Barry wasn't quite desperate enough to jump off the motorcycle.
Len pulled into a space a bit of a distance from the gate into the prison, and he didn't pull off his helmet properly, just flicked back the visor as he turned to where Barry had climbed off and was scowling at him, his own helmet already safely stored in its usual spot. "Look, I don't care what you tell him, Barry, but tell him something. Tell him you're dating some pretty girl in your grade, if that's what you need to do."
Barry tugged on the strap of his backpack and sighed. "Yeah, okay." Then he considered how Len was relaxing against his bike. "You're not coming in with me?"
Len's responding smile was sharp in a way Barry wouldn't really get until later. "Pretty sure this is one conversation you need to have on your own. Do you wanna shove your bag in one of the panniers?"
"Oh, uh, yeah, sure." Barry quickly shrugged it off and made to shove it into the pannier without his helmet, because they wouldn't both fit, he knew from previous attempts.
Len reached out and stopped him. "Have you got your bus pass?" he asked, voice gone low and serious. When Barry frowned at him, confused about the need for the question, he clarified, "I don't want to leave you without a way home if I have to race back and keep Mick from burning the flat down."
Barry huffed and rolled his eyes, because he knew about Mick's pyromania, but he didn't quite realize exactly how dangerous it could be, not yet. Still, Len looked serious enough that he honestly replied, "It's in my wallet." He patted his back pocket. "With my ID and what I have left from the two twenties Mick slipped in there last night. Which, seriously, I don't need that much for lunch."
Len's mouth quirked with his slightly lopsided fond smile (which is still one of Barry's top five favorite of his expressions). "I'll be sure to let him know," he said in that dry tone that Barry had already come to realize meant he was going to do the exact opposite.
(If Barry found sixty dollars in his wallet the next morning, he decided, he was going to wake them both up with a pillow to the face.)
Barry huffed and finished shoving his bag into the pannier, then turned with a wave and made his way into the prison.
"I hope you didn't skip school, Barry," the desk sergeant, Richie, told him as Barry signed in.
"Huh?" Barry blinked in confusion, before realizing what Richie meant. "Oh! No, a friend gave me a ride over after I got out. I let my bag with him, since he didn't wanna come in."
Richie chuckled and passed him a visitor's badge, then buzzed him through.
Once Dad had sat on his side of the glass and they'd both picked up their phones, his first question was, "Shouldn't you still be in school?"
Despite his nerves, Barry rolled his eyes. "It's already out for the day. And I caught a ride."
Dad hummed and nodded. "Okay, Slugger, if you say so."
Barry huffed, but hearing his dad call him that old nickname always made him smile, which probably ruined it a bit.
Dad quirked a smile at him in return. "So, what brings you out to see me first thing? Nothing bad?" Concern darkened his expression.
Barry swallowed, struggling for a moment with how to respond. But, well, Len was right that he needed to tell him something, and at least the basic truth should make his dad lose that worried look. "I, uhm, I started dating someone?" he said, hating that it came out as more of a question. (But, then, it was probably a bit of a miracle he'd got it out at all.)
Dad blinked once, and then he grinned, wide and delighted, and the sight made Barry grin back, warmed in a way that made Joe's reaction feel more like a nightmare than the reality. "It's not Iris?" Dad guessed, a teasing gleam in his eyes that Barry couldn't remember seeing since before Mom died.
Barry swallowed and shook his head. "No."
Dad shook his head, like he was maybe a little sad about that, but he was still grinning. "Tell me all about her."
Len had said he could tell his dad it was a girl, sure, but how long before Barry slipped up his pronouns? Could he really stomach lying to Dad about his sexuality? Lying about having two boyfriends, sure, no way he was sharing that again, but their genders?
(What would Dad say? Would he lose his smile? Would he tell Barry to get out and never come back? Would he–?)
"Barry?" Dad called, so much concern in his voice, and using Barry's name like he never did.
"Him," Barry managed to force out, and he felt a little like his stomach had climbed up into his throat.
Dad blinked again, just once, and then his expression eased into something open and loving and he said, "Ah. Tell me about him, then."
Barry ducked his head, trying to hide his relieved tears, but he knew it was audible in his voice when he said, "He's the one who brought me. I was... I dunno. Putting off talking to you."
"Bartholomew," Dad said, and Barry made a face at his full name, as he always had, "there is absolutely nothing on this earth that will make me stop loving you."
Barry swallowed and couldn't stop himself from admitting, "Pretty sure Joe said something similar, once." And he really wished he could take it back once it was out of his mouth, because that was a horrible thing to say about the man who'd taken him in when he'd had nowhere else to go.
Dad's expression went hard and cold in a way that was both more than a little terrifying, and reminiscent of the expressions both Mick and Len got when they got in the way of someone attempting to mug Barry. "What did Joseph do? He'd better not have hit you."
"What? No!" Christ, in what universe would Joe ever do something like that? "He just... He doesn't approve. Said some things."
"What things?" Dad demanded, so much anger in his voice.
(Barry was starting to think he should have just stuck with the dating a girl story. Or maybe just never said anything about Joe.)
"He–" Barry swallowed and couldn't meet his dad's eyes as he made himself whisper, "He said I'm gonna end up in the cell next to yours."
If silences weren't the opposite of sound, that one would have been screaming.
And then Dad cleared his throat and quietly, gently, said, "Barry, look at me, please."
Barry bit the inside of his lip and looked up. Dad looked...a little angry, sure, but also sad, and he'd pressed one of his hands against the glass between them. It was as close as they could get to touching, and Barry surprised himself, just a bit, with how quickly and forcefully he pressed his own hand to the glass.
"Does your boyfriend make you happy?" Dad asked, his voice still quiet and gentle, like he was afraid Barry might spook and run if he raised it even a little bit.
"Yeah," Barry admitted, because Len and Mick... They didn't really do casual hugs or kisses, and crying seemed to be more than a little anathema to them, but they hadn't kicked him out when they could have, and they showed they cared in so many ways. Like Mick slipping money into his wallet, or Len driving him out to the prison to talk to his dad. And he wouldn't trade them for Joe's hugs.
"Then I'm happy," Dad said, sounding so sincere, and Barry tried and failed to blink back the tears that sprung to his eyes. "I love you, Slugger. No matter what. Okay?"
"I love you, too, Dad," Barry whispered back, pushing against the glass and wishing as desperately as he ever had that it wasn't there.
The guard on his dad's side stepped over. "Time's up, Allen," Barry heard through the phone.
Dad pulled his hand away from the glass to hold up a finger. "Do you have somewhere to go? Not Joe's," he asked Barry, just a little urgent. And the guard, whose hand been reaching to take the receiver from him, took a step back.
Barry smiled and nodded. "Yeah. My boyfriend, he's a...little bit older." Barry wasn't certain exactly how much older they were, mind, but he was pretty sure it was at least five years. "I'm staying at his place."
Dad's shoulders relaxed and he smiled. "Okay, good. Thank him for me."
Barry blinked against a fresh wave of tears and croaked, "I will."
Dad smiled at him and hung up, calmly letting the guard lead him away.
Barry took a moment to wipe at his eyes, then made his way back out of the prison. Len was still waiting for him on his bike, though he stiffened a bit when he caught sight of Barry. "What happened?" he demanded, voice tight.
"It's okay," Barry promised, because from what he could see through Len's open visor, his boyfriend was likely thinking about finding a way into the prison and punching Dad in the face. "He just, he wanted me to thank you. For giving me somewhere to stay."
Len's expression went blank in that way Barry recognized from the morning he'd moved in with them, when he handed Barry the mug of hot chocolate. Barry was nearly positive it meant he was struggling to find the proper response, or something.
Rather than leaving Len to struggle, Barry stepped forward and hugged him, saying, "Thank you. For making me come."
Len flinched away from him at first – a reaction that Barry was still getting used to – but then he hugged Barry back, his hold so tight, Barry wondered if he wasn't afraid he'd vanish otherwise. Which was...actually kind of sweet. (Though he was nearly certain Len wouldn't think so.)
After a couple of heartbeats, Len pulled away and cleared his throat, motioning towards the pannier with Barry's helmet. "Put that on so we can go," he ordered, and Barry did so, letting him have his space.
While Barry often talked about his boyfriends when he visited his dad after that, he was always careful to make it sound like there was just one of them, because it didn't matter what his dad had said, he couldn't chance more angry silences because he was in a relationship with two other men. He just couldn't.
It turns out, incidentally, that he shouldn't have worried.
After spending pretty much the whole day running himself ragged with terror for his dad, finally having him in front of him, safe, is a...relief. A breath of fresh air. Hugging him is, of course, even better.
"We're okay," he tells his team, because it occurs to him that he wasn't the only one with his heart in his throat as he raced across the city to save his dad from the Tricksters' booby trap. "Dad's safe."
The breath of relief is loud and warming, despite Barry's misgivings towards one of the people very probably joining in. (Though, would he? Would Dr Wells actually care that Barry's dad was safe?)
"Bare," Joe says, "I think, given the current circumstances, I can wait to take Henry back until tomorrow, if you want to run him past the house?"
Barry blinks a couple of times, so grateful for the offer. Because there have been a number of times, recently, where he's been able to actually hug his dad – being a member of the CCPD has some perks, despite the dangers – but having him there all night? Having more than just five or ten minutes to catch up? That is pretty much his dream come true.
"Joe says," he tells Dad, "that we can wait until tomorrow to take you back. I can take you to his house and you can change into something other than prison garb?"
Dad tilts his head to the side slightly, giving Barry a considering look. "I think," he says, "I'd rather spend the night at your place."
Barry blinks a couple times because what? At– With Len and Mick? But–
Oh. Oh, shit. His dad thinks he's only got one boyfriend. But he doesn't. Which he'll find out if Barry takes him there. (Probably if he takes him to Joe's, too, honestly; as much as Joe doesn't like Barry's relationship, he'll be sure to correct Dad's misconception as soon as he finds out about it.)
Barry swallows and mutes his comms, then tries on a strained smile for his dad. "I– Dad, look. I haven't been...completely honest. About my relationship."
Dad inclines his head, then says, "You mean about there being two of them?"
Barry's brain just...stops working.
Dad puts on a smile that looks a little mean. "Joe told me," he explains. "Right after I punched him."
Barry chokes. "Y-You what?!"
"Punched him," Dad says, matter-of-fact. "For saying what he did and kicking you out."
"He did– I left!"
"Because you didn't feel welcome." Dad turns his familiar stern stare on him. "Close enough, he deserved it. And then he tried to explain why, which involved–"
"Telling you it's not one boyfriend, but two," Barry finishes a bit weakly. Dammit, Joe.
Dad sets a warm hand on Barry's shoulder. "I was waiting for you to tell me yourself," he admits, and Barry feels like a heel. "But I can understand why you didn't. I'm not angry with you, Slugger."
And that's pretty much the moment Barry sobs and lunges into his dad's arms, because this is...everything. This is the response he'd so badly wished for, but had been convinced he'd never get. Because Joe–
"I love you, Barry. No matter how many people you're sleeping with," Dad says, voice going a little wry at the end.
"I love you, too, Dad," Barry chokes out, giving him one last squeeze before quickly taking a couple steps back and rubbing roughly at his eyes. "I–" He takes a deep breath, reminds himself that Dad already knows the hard part. "They – my boyfriends, Len and Mick – they're criminals."
"So am I," Dad points out gently.
"You didn't do it!" Barry snaps, shooting his dad a glare. And then he remembers who he's glaring at and quickly looks away. "Shit, sorry. I didn't mean–"
But Dad just chuckles, warm and fond. "I hope you don't snap at your boss that way," he says.
Barry huffs, because Captain Singh has never brought up his dad being in prison; he's always assumed Joe asked him not to bring it up, though it's possible the captain has heard or remembers Barry's testimony and decided on his own to ignore the topic. "Yeah, no. But." He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. "You know Captain Cold and Heatwave?" They'd ended up in the paper a few times, when their fights were early or public enough for people to take photos or video.
(Actually, Barry could usually tell when Lisa was in town, because Len and Mick would pull a heist in front of dozens of witnesses, more than enough to ensure someone got video of their 'fight' with the Flash. Those were always the nights he'd come home to find Lisa curled up on the couch, cackling over the videos she'd found, while Len leant over the back and offered insider commentary. Snarts.)
Dad blinks, and then his eyes widen. "You're kidding," he says, something that looks suspiciously like amusement glinting in his eyes.
Barry shakes his head. "Len decided that playing cat and mice with the Flash should be his new hobby," he says in as dry a voice as he can manage.
Dad laughs, loud and full, and Barry grins, just a little, because this isn't the admonishment he'd been expecting, or the outright yelling that Joe would have done. This is pretty much the same reaction he'd had, a little disbelieving he loved a couple of complete morons, but so fucking grateful to have them in his life. Because Len had been right, he had needed a distraction from the Reverse-Flash. He'd been in desperate need of a rival who he could have fun with, instead of constantly waiting for things to go to hell and people dying. Which he knew Len and Mick were still more than capable of, but so long as they were playing foil to the Flash, they were on their best behavior. To the point that no one had died or lost any limbs since that guard in the theatre, before Len knew who the Flash was.
"Now," Dad says through his amusement, "you have to introduce us."
Barry groans, just a little, and takes a quick glance around at the abandoned factories surrounding them. "I need to ring them, first," he explains, because he so totally isn't springing this one them without warning.
"That's fair," Dad agrees.
"I'll be right back," Barry promises, and leaves him to hunt down a working phone, because trying to fit his mobile in his suit has never ended well. He finds one in the office of the warehouse three over and Mick's is the number he remembers first, so he dials it and waits.
"Yeah?" Mick answers, tone somewhere between threatening and unassuming, and Barry can't help but smile at it.
"Hey. Yer dad okay?"
"Is that Barry?" he hears Len at a distance.
"Put me on speaker?" Barry requests, if just to save Mick from having to repeat everything.
Mick chuckles warmly, then says, "Alright, yer on speaker."
"Did you save your father?" Len adds.
Barry smiles as he says, "Yeah, he's fine."
"Thank fuck," Mick says, and Len hums an agreement.
"Yeah. Joe says we can probably hold off taking him back to Iron Heights until tomorrow."
"So you're spending the night at West's?" Len guesses.
Barry takes a deep breath, then says in a bit of a rush, "Actually, Dad wants to meet you both." He pauses for a moment, giving them a chance to decipher that, then continues, "I mean, if it's okay. I can just take him to Joe's, though, if you're not–"
"Barry," they say at the same time, cutting him off.
"We'd love t'meet yer dad," Mick says for them both.
"Okay." Barry takes a deep breath; they're willing to meet him. "Okay. I'm gonna update Joe, then I'll be home."
"We'll see you soon," Len replies, tone amused, and Barry expects he'll be counting the seconds so he knows exactly how much of a stick in the mud Joe's been this time.
"Hopefully," Barry agrees with a sigh, then hangs up and flashes back to his dad. "They said you're welcome to come over," he offers.
Dad smiles at him, his whole face lighting up. "Good."
Barry makes a face at him, even as he clicks his comms back on. "Hey, guys. Is Joe still there?"
"He's left to go check on Iris, but I can patch you through to his phone if you give me a sec," Cisco replies.
"Yeah, thanks." He waits for it to connect, then says, "Hey, Joe? Dad's coming home with me tonight, actually."
Joe's silent for a long moment, during which Dad's mouth thins with disapproval, like he knows exactly what's going through Joe's head. And then says, his tone flat, "I see. I'll see you both at S.T.A.R. Labs tomorrow morning, then." And then he hangs up.
Barry huffs out a tired breath and rubs at his eyes around the mask, then startles a little as he's pulled into a hug. "Okay there, Slugger?"
Barry takes a second to debate his response, then admits, "I don't know."
Dad's arms tighten around him briefly, then he lets him go. "So, your place?"
Barry nods and says into his comms, "Cisco, I'm turning off my locator." Because Cisco had made him promise to warn him before he did that, back when Barry had first insisted he show him how, so he didn't have to keep running back to the lab to change before he went home. (Because no way Barry wanted it on record where their safehouses were, or that he changed flats once every three or four weeks. Which was doubly true with his suspicions regarding Dr Wells.)
"Got it. We'll see you tomorrow."
"And Dr Allen!" Caitlin is quick to add.
Barry grins and turns off both his comms and the locator. "Okay," he says to his dad. "We can go now. Ready?"
Dad chuckles. "Let's find out," is his response, and Barry lets his grin go a little manic before he picks him up and flashes home.
Len and Mick are waiting for them, both of them standing just past where Barry usually stops on the rare occasion he flashes directly into this flat, rather than their usual positions of sprawled over the couch or arguing over what to make for dinner in the kitchen. They're also both standing with that particular stiffness to their shoulders that Barry knows means they're nervous. Which means he's not the only one of them waiting for the proverbial axe to fall. Reassuring. (Not.)
"Dr Allen," Len says stiffly, wearing his most cordial close-mouthed smile. "I'm Len Snart, and I think you know Mick Rory?"
"Wait, what?" Barry has to ask, looking between his dad and Mick with surprise.
Dad nods while Mick grunts an affirmative, then explains, "Weren't sure 'til Lenny checked, after ya told us the truth 'bout yer mom. It was a coupla years b'fore we met ya; I ran with another crew fer a bit, got caught 'n tossed in t'Iron Heights. Was a riot coupla months inta my sentence – not mine nor Lenny's doin' – 'n I saw the doc tryin' t'bandage some poor sucker'd got a shiv ta the side. Kept the fightin' offa him so he could finish."
"For which I remain grateful, even if Mr Rodriguez wasn't," Dad says as he steps forward and offers a hand to Mick, which he takes for a quick shake. "And I think both of you can call me Henry."
Len and Mick trade looks, then Len shrugs while Mick says, "No promises, Doc."
Barry snorts, because he could have told his dad that's the answer he'd be getting.
Barry can't see his dad's expression, but the way both Mick and Len stiffen tells him it changes in some way, and then Dad says in a hard, cold voice that Barry doesn't recognize, "I'm sure I don't need to explain how willing I am to make my conviction a reality if either of you ever break Barry's heart."
"Oh my god," Barry moans, covering his face. He'd somehow forgotten that one of the pros of never introducing his boyfriends to anyone, is that there's no one to threaten them.
Len lets out that little snort that means he finds something humorous in a kind of cute way. But then Mick deadpans, "Don't worry, Doc, Barry's already more'n proven he can serve some good 'n terrifyin' revenge if we leave 'im upset."
"Mick," Len hisses, as if he totally hadn't deserved his punishment for vanishing for months, and then shooting ice at Barry upon his return. (Him not knowing Barry was the Flash at the time is something Mick and Barry like to conveniently forget when they're giving him some good-natured hell for past choices.)
"That sounds like a story," Dad says, raising an eyebrow at Barry.
Barry immediately starts nodding, because it's actually kind of nice to finally be able to share stories about Len and Mick with someone other than Lisa.
"Over dinner," Mick suggests. "Doc, any preferences? Pretty sure we've got fixin's for burgers, or tonight's usually lasagna night."
"Anything that's not prison food," Dad decides.
"Also," Barry recalls, "clothing. I think Len's clothing will fit you."
"Probably," Len agrees after quickly sizing Dad up. "And I think we've still got a spare towel from the last time Lise stayed over, if you want a shower?"
"It's almost like you know what it's like to be freshly out of prison," Dad says drily, but he's smiling.
Len's innocent expression always seems to look like less of a massive lie than Barry thinks it should, which isn't fair. "I'm sure I've no idea what you mean," he insists. "I'm a paragon of lawful behavior."
Barry and Mick snort at the same time, and Dad starts chuckling. And maybe bringing his dad home to meet his boyfriends is going to turn out okay.
It does, in fact. They all end up staying up way too late in the living room, Barry and his dad on the couch because he's reveling in the chance to be able to reach out and touch him whenever he feels like it, and Len and Mick are probably at least a little grateful that he's not doing it to them. All of the embarrassing stories get passed around, with Dad being the only one who isn't complaining about being the target, and they do a lot of laughing, with only a couple sad or angry silences, and it's the best night Barry can remember having in a long time.
Mick makes breakfast in the morning and they all eat it a little subdued, because Dad can't stay – Barry lives with two criminals who are in a constant state of being on the run from the law, but all he gets with his dad is one night, even though he didn't commit the crime he's in for, and the world is not fair – and Barry isn't the only one who doesn't want him to go.
Still, once the table's cleared, Barry goes to change into his suit while Dad says his goodbyes to Len and Mick, and then Barry flashes him to S.T.A.R. Labs.
Before they get within hearing distance of the cortex, Dad puts a hand on Barry's arm and says, "Slugger, those two boys of yours? They're good ones, no matter their histories. And I couldn't be more happy that you have them."
Barry swallows down what might be a sob and steps into the arms his dad holds out to him. Because he's needed to hear that, just a little, that proof that he's not the only person who can see past the 'arsonist' and the 'thief and murderer' plastered all over their records at the CCPD. "Thank you," he whispers into the shirt his dad had borrowed, which smells a little bit like Len, still, but also a whole lot like his dad, and that means it smells like home.
"I'm gonna get you out," he says – swears – pulling back and meeting his dad's eyes and willing him to believe. Because what Dr Wells had said to him when he'd been running with that bomb on his wrist?
Barry knows exactly who the Reverse-Flash is, and he's going to get him to confess to killing his mom if it's the last thing he does.