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a perpetual annoyance

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Len wakes up to see his father looking down at him.

Dad’s smiling. That’s never good.

He explains the situation to Len while his lackey looks on, smiling. Lisa, with a bomb in her brain.

He’d kill Lisa to get what he wants.

He feels sick. He feels like he can’t even see straight. He wants to throw up, he wants to lunge at his father, to choke him until he falls dead on the floor, but he has the controller and Lisa will die if Len does anything but be a good, obedient son.

Len feels exactly like did when he was a kid, small and weak and stupid compared to a father too powerful to beat. He feels like he’s in that apartment still, his head being slammed against a wall, wishing desperately he could be anywhere else, knowing that the only reason he doesn’t jump off a bridge is because then Lisa would be all alone with him.

He realizes that if his father went to these lengths, the job is going to bad. Not just dangerous. Bad.

Nightmares for the rest of your life bad.

He didn’t think it was possible, but he feels even worse. He feels himself sinking as he nods his agreement, and he knows there will be no escape from this one.

--

Barry Allen is here to save him. If he weren’t in a perpetual state of nausea and rage, he’d find it funny.

He shoots Barry with enough ice to keep him good and busy and he walks out with his father, who doesn’t know Barry well enough to know that a few icicles wouldn’t stop him for good. Probably not, anyway, at least not with that crew of child geniuses on call.

Either way, there’s not much of a choice. He likes Barry – hates him, sure, but likes him too – but there’s no one in the world he would put above Lisa’s life.

--

Again, with the kid.

It’s a truly sad state of affairs when seeing the Scarlet Annoyance is the bright spot of his day.

Of course he has a predictably self-righteous speech ready. About how he can’t let them hurt people, etc., etc.

The thing is, if his dad doesn’t get exactly what he wants, he might blame Len. He might kill Lisa just out of spite.

He doesn’t want to walk out and stiff his server, but he knows Barry’s not the type to run out on a bill, even someone else’s, so he says “Thanks for dinner, kid,” and walks away.

He thinks, for half a second, that it’s good that he got to almost, kind of have dinner with Barry before Dad finishes destroying his life, but he shakes off the thought, wondering where it even came from.

--

The guy they’re working with doesn’t know Dad’s temper.

Len knows, from long experience, that not recognizing Dad’s temper can be a fatal mistake.

It’s not that Len hasn’t killed people. Some of them deserved it. Some of them were shooting at Len, and yeah it was because Len was robbing someone, but you get into a gunfight, you get what you get. A few times, it was careless. It was overestimating or underestimating, and it didn’t need to be lethal but it was. He felt guilty for those times, but not enough to stop doing what he did best.

Killing someone because they said something insulting, because your ego couldn’t handle it…. That wasn’t something Len knew how to do.

And killing your own crew – only the worst kind of scum did that.

The tech guy insulted Len, and his father blew his head off. Len stared at the body.

This was blood on Len’s hands too.

His father actually thought he was defending Len.

Is this what love looks like to a man like Lewis Snart? Snarling pride and instant violence?

It was nothing he didn’t already know about his father. He knew he was going to see blood and brains sometime soon, though he didn’t expect this soon.

Splattered blood and sneaking off to vomit in the corner were just what family meant.

--

The kid, again. He didn’t have the energy for this shit. He was about to murder a bunch of guards because otherwise Lewis would blow off his own daughter’s head, and that might just happen regardless, so he sure as hell wasn’t in the mood for banter.

He tried to get Barry to leave.

And then, the kid said, “We know your father put a bomb in Lisa. My team is working on a way to save her.”

Len stared at him, carefully showing no emotion on his face. He felt light-headed almost, like he had been knocked down with a brick and was too surprised to even know what happened. He felt the numbness, the brutal nothingness he had taken on, start to fade, like tingling returning to too-still limbs.

Was this what it felt like to have someone take care of you?

Was this how it felt to be saved?

Lewis walked in, then, and Barry told him a ridiculous lie, but Lewis was too focused on the job to notice that Barry was as much a criminal as Len was an acrobat. He really should have told Barry to leave, but he had to admit, he and Lisa and all those guards would be safer with Barry there. So Len, still half in a daze, played along.

--

He has a gun on Barry, and he doesn’t want to shoot, but the only person in the world he’d do it for is Lisa. But a minute ago, Barry was lying on the floor, and Len had no idea if he were faking or not, and Len isn’t even close to ready to feel that way again.

So he waits. And he waits. His father is yelling, he has the bomb’s controller in his hand, and Len doesn’t know if he can wait much longer. He doesn’t want to shoot. But he knows Caitlin and Cisco will save Lisa even if he kills Barry. Anyone else would let her die to retaliate, but they would save her. That’s the kind of people they are. And there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for Lisa, and his father is not a patient man.

But he waits.

And Barry finally says, “Lisa’s safe.”

And then Len does what he should have done the very first time Dad ever put his hands on Lisa.

--

Barry’s on the other side of glass, saying that he knows that Lisa is his one weakness.

If that’s a threat, Len’s sure as hell going to threaten back.

Barry ignores his threat and says, “There’s good in you.”

Len wants to laugh. Loving the sister who gets knocked around alongside you every damn day of your childhood doesn’t make you good. It’s just instinct.

But the kid keeps talking, keeps hoping for something.

He’ll just have to get used to disappointment.

--

Lisa breaks Len out of prison a week later.

The next day, Barry finds their secret hideout. Len is starting to think the Flash's team must have some kind of hacker friend or something.

“Jumping the gun a little, kid. We haven’t even had the chance to plan our next gig.”

Barry stands in front of him, hand on his hip, calm as can be. “Yeah, but... you owe me dinner.”

Len stares at him for a good minute. Then, against his will, he smiles.