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Steal the Air

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Did you ever get the feeling that everything in America is completely fucked up? You know that feeling that the whole country is like one inch away from saying, 'That's it, forget it.' We live in a world where vigilantes dispense justice in the cities and metahumans rule the streets. And we're expected to survive high school and go out into that crazy world. I can barely think about surviving another day of mediocre education, let alone making it in the "real world". You know what I'm talking about, Starling City. So sit back, relax, and do not adjust your screen because I am Captain Cold and this is live. This is life.


"Hey, Sin, have you seen this?" Sara asked, sidling up next to her best friend as they headed into Starling City High School.

"What?" Sin asked, taking the cell phone from Sara. She glanced down at the open Facebook app. "Captain Cold? Yeah, I've been watching. You like every one of his posts so I was curious. Who is he?"

"No one knows," Sara said, taking her phone back and pulling up his profile. "The only photo is his profile photo with the huge parka and dark goggles. You can barely see his face."

"Maybe that's the point," Sin said. "He leaves that photo up blocking the camera for the live videos on purpose."

"I know, but he's gotta be a student here. He's as much as said so," Sara pointed out. "I'm gonna find him."

"Good luck with that," Sin said.


Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That's how it goes
Everybody knows
- Everybody Knows, by Leonard Cohen

Okay, down to business. I got my Black Jack gum here and I got that feeling, mmm that familiar feeling that something rank is going down up there. Yeah, I can smell it. I can almost taste it. The rankness in the air. It's everywhere. It's running through that old pipeline out there, trickling along the dumb concrete river and coming up the drains of those lovely track homes we all live in. I mean, I don't know. Everywhere I look it seems everything is sold out.

My dad sold out. And my mom sold out years ago when she took off after birthing my sister. And then he went and brought us here, to this this shitty corner of the world. He made me everything I am today, so naturally, I hate the bastard.


Laurel Lance sat on her bed, laptop open on her outstretched legs as she watched Captain Cold's live feed. She muted the video as her dad came into the room.

"I don't know how you get perfect grades when you're on that thing all hours of the night." Laurel felt like her smile was more of a grimace. "Don't forget that your Harvard interview is tomorrow. Don't want you looking tired. Good night, Sweetheart."

She kept the smile plastered on her face until her dad had closed her bedroom door before unmuting the video almost violently.

She didn't know why, but this Captain Cold seemed to understand her in a way her father never would.


I'm getting a lot of comments and private messages here. 'Dear Captain Cold, my boyfriend's giving me the cold shoulder. How do I show him that I really love him?' Why do you keep asking me for love advice? Do I seem like I have a lot of experience with relationships? If I had a girlfriend I'd be making out with her instead of talking to all you lonely freaks. 'Dear Captain, I think you're full of crap. High school isn't as bad as you make it out to be. Cheer up, buddy.' Well, you may be one of the few teenagers who doesn't hate high school, but let me tell you something, you're in the minority. You wanna know why I'm not "cheery"? I just got dragged to this dumb city. I don't have any friends, no money of my own, no car, and oh yeah, no license. I don't know what good a license would do since there's nothing to do here anyway.


Leonard Snart hesitantly went up to the librarian's desk in the school library, handing over the book he was returning to the cute blonde girl who was working at the desk.

"Hi," she greeted him.

"Hi," he automatically responded, adjusting his glasses.

"You're in my writing class, right?" she asked.

Leonard really wished the teacher hadn't read from his paper in today's class, drawing this girl's attention to him. Pretty girls like her made him nervous. "Uh huh."

"I like Mrs. Smoak. She's quirky." She turned away to look at his check out slip. "Now you're in trouble!" She paused dramatically. "You owe me twenty-five cents. 'How To Talk Dirty And Influence People' by Lenny Bruce. Who's he? Any good?"

Leonard shifted uncomfortably as he dug a quarter out of his pocket and handed it to her. "He's all right."

"Talk a lot?" Sara teased.

"Not too much, no," Leonard responded, making his retreat.


Sara pulled out a school newspaper with pictures of all the senior class in it as she watched the quiet new guy practically run from the library. She found his photo and circled it, then crossed it out. "Cute, but no way," she mused.


Curtain’s call
Is the last of all
When the lights fade out
All the sinners crawl

So they dug your grave
And the masquerade
Will come calling out
At the mess you've made

Don't wanna let you down
But I am hell bound
Though this is all for you
Don't wanna hide the truth

No matter what we breed
We still are made of greed
This is my kingdom come
This is my kingdom come
- Demons, by Imagine Dragons

Guess who? It's ten o'clock; do you care where your parents are? After all, it's a jungle out there. I don't know. Everywhere I look it seems that someone's getting butt surfed by the system. Parents are always talking about the system, and the sixties and how cool it was. I hate the sixties, I hate school, I hate principals, I hate vice principals! But my true pure refined hatred is reserved for guidance counsellors. Captain Cold just happens to have in his very hands a copy of a memo written by Mr. Slade Wilson, guidance counselor extraordinaire to one Miss Amanda Waller, high school principal. "I found Miranda un-remorseful about her current condition." Bastard can't even say she's knocked up. "And she's unwilling to minimize its effect on the morals of the student population." Guidance counsellors! If they knew anything about career moves would they have ended up as guidance counsellors?


Carter Hall was sitting in front of his computer, Captain Cold's livestream open in one window with a blank Word doc open in another.

He hastily muted his computer as his mom knocked on the open door. "Carter have you finished your homework yet?"

"Yes," he somberly answered.

"Your father and I are downstairs, why don't you come and join us for once," she implored.

"No," Carter refused.

"Okay, Carter, have it your way," she said, sadly.

"Thanks," Carter said as she retreated.

Carter unmuted his computer as he typed: Dear Captain Cold, do you think I should kill myself?


I took the pistol and I shot out all the lights
I started running in the middle of the night
The law ain't never been a friend of mine
I would kill again to keep from doing time
You should never ever trust my kind

I'm a wanted man
I got blood on my hands
Do you understand
I'm a wanted man
- I'm a Wanted Man, by Royal Deluxe

Send me your most pathetic moment, your most anything, as long as it's real. I mean I want the size, the shape, the feel, the smell. I want blood, sweat, and tears in these messages. I want brains and ectoplasm all over them. Hallelujah! And now, all my chilly listeners, get comfy because my White Canary is back. "Come in. Every night you enter me like a criminal. You break into my brain, but you're no ordinary criminal. You put your feet up, you drink your mug of hot chocolate, you start to party, you turn up my stereo. Songs I've never heard, but I move anyway. You get me crazy, I say 'Do it.' I don't care what, just do it. Jam me, jack me, push me, pull me -talk hard!" I like that. Talk Hard. I like the idea that a voice can just go somewhere uninvited and just kind of hang out like a dirty thought in a nice clean mind. To me a thought is like a virus. You know, it can just kill all the healthy thoughts and just take over. That would be serious.

Sara was lying on her bed, listening to Captain Cold read her message for all the world to hear. "That would be totally serious," she agreed.

I know all of my chilly listeners would love it if I would just call up the pretty bird lady. But no! Because she never encloses her number.

Sara laughed. "Tough luck, creepoid."

She's probably a lot like me, a legend in her own mind. But you know what, I bet in real life she's probably not that wild. I bet she's kind of shy like so many of us who briskly walk the halls, pretending to be late for some class, pretending to be distracted. Hey, poetry lady, are you really this cool? Are you out there? Are you listening?

"I'm always out here," Sara promised.

I feel like I know you, and yet… we'll never meet. Ah, so be it. I don't know; drugs are out, sex is out, politics are out, everything is on hold. I mean we definitely need something new. We just keep waiting for some new voice to come out of somewhere and just say, "Hey, wait a minute, what is wrong with this picture?" Well maybe this is the answer to everything, wouldn't that be nice, huh? "Dear Captain Cold, do you think I should kill myself?" Great! Signed, "I'm Serious." And of course there is a number here. Hello, Serious?

Carter Hall took a deep breath and answered his phone. "Yeah?"

"Are you okay?" Captain Cold asked.

"Yep," Carter answered.

"I guess what I'm asking is how serious are you? How are you going to do it?" Captain Cold asked.

"I'm gonna blow my fucking head off," Carter responded.

"Oh! Well, do you have a gun?" Captain Cold asked.

"No, I'm going to use my finger, genius," Carter said, sarcastically.

"All right. So where is this gonna take place, huh?"

"Right here," Carter said.

"Where is this alleged gun? Do you have it with you? Did you at least write a note? You have a reason, don't you? You're not going to be one of those people who kills themselves and nobody has any idea of why they did it? Hey, that's why we need a note, pal!" Captain Cold cajoled.

"I'm all alone," Carter admitted.

"No, hey, look, maybe it's okay to be alone sometimes, everybody's alone," Captain Cold insisted.

"You're not," Carter said.

"I didn't talk to one person today, not- not counting teachers. I sit alone every day you know, sitting in the stairwell eating my lunch, reading a book. What about you?"

Carter hung up the phone. His mind was already made up. He loaded the gun.

I hate that, now I'm depressed. Now I feel like killing myself, but luckily I'm too depressed to bother. Great! Straight to voicemail. Rejected again, that's okay I'm used to it, terminal loneliness. People always think they know who a person is but they're always wrong. Most parents have no idea. It's just that mine had me tested because I sit alone in my room alone, naked, wearing only a cock ring, heh heh! I mean it really bugs me, everyone knows what a person should be, who cares how I should be! You know, in real life I could be that anonymous nerd sitting across from you in Chem. Lab, staring at you so hard, you turn around, he tries to smile, but the smile just comes out all wrong. You just think how pathetic, then he just looks away and never looks back at you again. Well, hey, who cares, that's my motto. Well, sleep tight, Miranda, sleep tight, White Canary, sleep tight, Mr. Serious. Maybe you'll feel better tomorrow.

Sara went to the paper she had taped to the wall of what she knew about Captain Cold so far. She wrote down that he ate lunch on the stairs reading a book.

She had a pretty good idea where to go look now.


Leonard was sitting outside with an open book and his lunch the next day, like he did every day.

The pretty girl from the library skipped down the stairs and stopped in front of him. "Hi, got a stick of gum?" She grabbed the package out of his shirt pocket, triumphantly. "Black Jack! My name's Sara, what's yours?"


"Leonard," she repeated. "Well, hi, Leonard."

"Hi," Leonard said, marking his place in his book and closing it.

"Listen, I was gonna cut fourth period, do you wanna join me in the art supply room?" Sara asked.

"Er, no, I can't, got to go, sorry," Leonard said, awkwardly getting to his feet and practically running off.

"Sorry!" Sara called after him. "Maybe next time."


Mrs. Smoak was somber as she got the class's attention. "I have some very upsetting news. Last night one of our students, Carter Hall, took his own life. For those of you who knew him, there will be a memorial service at Dempsey Hall on Friday. I know it hurts, it's painful to lose someone."


Leonard found a quiet corner on campus and pulled out his phone. He opened Captain Cold's Facebook account and read the newest message from White Canary aloud, to himself. "You're the voice crying out in the wilderness, you're the voice that makes my brain burn and makes my guts go gooey. Yeah, you gut me, my insides spill out on your altar and tell the future, my steaming gleaming guts spill out your nature. I know you, not your name, but your game. I know the true you, come to me or I'll come to you."

"So you are him," Sara exclaimed from behind Leonard, causing him to jump. "Don't worry I'm not going to bust you or anything. Aren't you going to ask who I am?"

"No, I don't think so. No!" Leonard said.

"I'm the White Canary!" She boasted. "You don't believe me." She grabbed his phone and quoted without looking at the screen, "'I know you, not your name, but your game. I know the true you, come to me or I'll come to you.' Hey, relax, I'm not really like that, except when I am."

Leonard tried to get away from her, still upset from learning about Carter's suicide. "Look, I really can't handle this right now, okay?"

Sara looked at him sympathetically, as if she could read his mind. "Look, it's not your fault. I was listening last night. I didn't think he'd go through with it."


You're free to do what you want
You never thought of consequences
You created your own little world
Where you could always be different

A place where the rules do not apply
You could never be denied
You took advantage of a good think
Now the void you filled is empty

Put the mask back on
Put the mask back on
Don't take it off 'til everybody's gone

Put the mask back on
Put the mask back on
No disguise has ever lasted so long
- Cover Up, by Trapt

You see I never planned it like this. I set up this account to talk to my old friends, but they didn't know to look for me under this handle. I thought I was talking to nobody. I imagined that nobody was listening. Maybe I imagined one person out there. Anyway one day I woke up and I realized I was never going to be normal and so I said fuck it, I said so be it and Captain Cold was born. I never meant to hurt anyone, honestly, I never meant to hurt anyone. I'm sorry, Carter. I never said, "Don't do it." I'm sorry. Um, anyway I'm done, stick a fork in me it's been grand. This is Captain Cold saying sayonara, over and out.

Sara sat staring at her computer as the video ended. "Come on, you can't do this," she told the screen.

Laurel shook her phone in the bedroom next to Sara's. "This is a joke right?"

"C'mon, Captain baby, don't stiff," Mick, Sin's boyfriend, complained as they watched together.

Leonard Snart paced around his bedroom, staring at his computer equipment. "What am I doing? Fuck It!" He sat back down and queued up a new video session.

You hear about some kid who did something stupid, something desperate. What possessed him? How could he do such a terrible thing? It's really quite simple, actually. Consider the life of a teenager. You have parents and teachers telling you what to do. You have movies, magazines, and TV telling you what to do. But you know what you have to do. Your job, your purpose, is to get accepted, get a cute girlfriend, and think up something great to do with the rest of your life. What if you're confused and can't imagine a career? What if you're funny looking and you can't get a girlfriend? You see no one wants to hear it, but the terrible secret is that being young is sometimes less fun than being dead.

"This is great, he's making it worse," the reporter commented to his cameraman outside the high school the kid who'd killed himself had attended. Whoever this guy was behind the parka and goggles, he'd made an impression. Whether that impression was good or bad, remained to be seen. What would get better ratings?

Suicide is wrong, but the interesting thing about it is how uncomplicated it seems. There you are, you got all these problems swarming around your brain, and here is one simple, one incredibly simple solution. I'm just surprised it doesn't happen every day around here. Now, now they're going to say I said offing yourself is simple, but no, no, no, no, it's not simple. It's like everything else, you have to read the fine print. For instance, assuming there is a heaven who would ever wanna go there, you know? I mean think about it, sitting on this cloud, you know it's nice, it's quiet, there's no teachers, there's no parents, but guess what? There's nothing to do! Fucking boring. Another thing to remember about suicide is that it is not a pretty picture. First of all, you shit your shorts, you know. So, there you are, dead, people are weeping over you, crying, girls you never spoke to are saying, "Why? Why? Why?" and you have a load in your shorts! That's the way I see it. Sue me. Now, they're saying I shouldn't think stuff like this. They're saying something is wrong with me, that I should be ashamed. Well, I'm sick of being ashamed. Aren't you?

"Sick to death!" Laurel agreed.

I don't mind being dejected and rejected, but I'm not going to be ashamed about it.

"Hallelujah," Sara called out.

At least pain is real. You look around and you see nothing is real, but the pain is real. You know, even this show isn't real. This isn't me; I'm using a voice disguiser. I'm a phony fuck just like my dad, just like anybody. You see, the real me is just as worried as the rest of you. They say I'm disturbed, well, of course, I'm disturbed. I mean we're all disturbed, and if we're not, why not? Doesn't this blend of blindness and blandness want to make you do something crazy? Then why not do something crazy? It makes a hell of a lot more sense than blowing your fucking brains out, you know. Go nuts, go crazy, get creative! You got problems? You just chuck 'em, nuke 'em! They think you're moody? Make 'em think you're crazy, make 'em think you might snap! They think you got attitude? You show 'em some real attitude! Come on, go nuts, get crazy. Hey no more Mr. Nice Guy! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, oh god!! ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, oh yes.

We're all excited
But we don't know why
Maybe it's cause
We're all gonna die

And when we do (When we do)
What's it all for (What's it all for)
You better live now
Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door

Tell me, are we gonna let de-elevator bring us down?
Oh, no let's go!

Let's go crazy
Let's get nuts
Look for the purple banana
Until they put us in the truck, let's go!
- Let’s Go Crazy, by Prince


Laurel Lance took Captain Cold's words to heart. She grabbed her ribbons and trophies - symbols of her academic achievement, of her so-called perfect life, and carried them down to the kitchen where she stuffed them in the microwave. Just before she slammed the door closed, she ripped off her stupid pearls and tossed them in, too. She punched something into the timer and watched in fascination as the items slowly spun around until the microwave exploded, spitting debris hit her in the face, knocking her out.

The explosion drew Sara out of her bedroom and down the stairs where she found her sister unconscious on the floor. She looked around, bewildered, until she saw the microwave and she burst out laughing.

"You tell 'em, Captain Cold," she muttered, reaching for her phone to call an ambulance.


The next day, Leonard watched as students rearranged the cards on the notice boards to spell out STAY COLD and hung signs that said THE TRUTH IS A VIRUS. Some of the teachers were running around freaking out, trying to get it all down. Others thought it was about time someone made a stand.

Sara tracked down Leonard and got him alone in the art room. "So, I don't know if you know this, but my sister is the perfect Laurel Lance." Leonard shook his head to indicate that he had not known this. "So, last night she burned up all her shit right after you suggested it, in our kitchen! Oh, her precious pearls were flying like bullets. Dad was un-thrilled."

Leonard ran a hand over his closely shorn hair. "This is out of control."

"Yeess!" Sara emphatically agreed, grinning maniacally.

"That's it, it's over. I just hope it isn't too late," Leonard said.

"Leonard!" Sara called after him as he ran away, again.

"Just leave me alone, okay, please?" he called back over his shoulder.


Leonard allowed his dad to drag him to the PTA meeting at the school. He slumped down in his chair as Principal Waller tried to conduct regular business when all the parents wanted to do was talk about him. Well, Captain Cold. He sat up straighter as Laurel Lance walked up on the dais.

"My name is Laurel Lance and I have something to say to you people. People are saying that Captain Cold is introducing bad things and encouraging bad things. But it seems to me that these things were already here. My god, why don't you people listen? He's trying to tell you something is wrong with this school. Half the people that are here are on a probation of some kind. We are all really scared to be who we really are. I am not perfect. I've just been going through the motions of being perfect, and inside I'm screaming."

"Laurel, you were a model student," Waller said, disappointment evident in her voice.

Leonard made a hasty retreat after Laurel left. This was all getting to be too much.


Leonard stood leaning against the wall outside the sliding door of his basement bedroom, deleting messages for Captain Cold on his phone.

"Hi! What are you doing? You having fun?" Sara asked as she approached him.

"Yeah," Leonard said, absently.

"Hey, look, I took some of these off the wall for you. I mistakenly thought you might want them," she said, thrusting some handmade signs at him.

"Thanks," Leonard said, letting them fall to the ground.

"So I guess you're not going on tonight," Sara commented after a few minutes of silence.

"Brilliant," Leonard drawled, pushing off the wall and going back into his room.

Sara huffed, following him. "Is this all just a game to you? You know you can't just shout 'fire' in a theatre and then walk out. You have a responsibility for the people who believe in you. What is this? C'mon say something, say anything. Open your mouth and say, 'Get the hell out of here bitch.'"

"I can't," Leonard said.

"You can't what?" Sara demanded.

"I can't talk," Leonard ground out.

Sara snorted. "Sure you can talk."

"I can't talk to you," he clarified. He let out a noise of frustration as he sat in front of his computer, put on his headset, and opened Facebook.

I got a message from this guy who's got a problem, he can't talk. I mean he can talk, but never when he wants to, not to girls, not to people. He just opened up his mouth and nothing came out. And this jerk finds somebody that he likes, which is probably the worst thing to happen to a person who can't talk. So, I don't know what to tell this guy because lately every time I give out advice the fit hits the shan. So, I don't know, maybe the best thing to do is just turn around and face the music and try to talk.

Leonard turned around to talk to Sara but she's gone.

"Leo," Lewis called, knocking on the door.

"Coming," Leonard called back, pausing the video and turning off the monitor.

"Leo, it's just me. I wanna come in for a minute," Lewis said, turning the locked doorknob.

"Yeah, just give me a second here, two seconds," Leonard said, taking off the headset and hiding it under a dirty tee-shirt.

"Open the goddamn door," Lewis shouted.

"On my way," Leonard said, checking the room one last time before yanking the door open.

"I have been out there for two minutes, what the hell are you doing in here?" Lewis demanded, looking for evidence of drugs or alcohol. Or a Facebook video.

"I was just reading," Leonard said, gesturing to the book on his desk.

"Oh c'mon, Leo, I heard you. I heard you talking," Lewis said.

"I was reading aloud," Leonard quickly said.

"Oh c'mon, do you really expect me to believe that?"

"Okay, I'll tell you the truth," Leonard said, not sure what he was going to say.

"He was talking to me," Sara said, popping up from behind the loveseat. "Hi, I'm Sara Lance."

"Nice to meet you," Lewis said, stunned. "How do you do?"

"I was afraid you would be mad at me for disturbing Leonard's homework," Sara said.

"You don't know how happy I am to meet you," Lewis said, looking at his son with new appreciation.

"Listen, I've got to go, but it was really nice to have met you. Bye, Leonard," Sara said, taking a step towards the sliding door.

"No, you don't have to go. Leo, she doesn't have to go," Lewis said.

"Bye now, see you tomorrow," Sara said with a wink to Leonard as she slipped outside.

"You've been a bad dog, haven't you?" Lewis said, punching his son lightly on the arm. "You know, for a second there I thought you were that crazy Facebook character they've been talking about on the news."

"Maybe he's not that crazy, Dad," Leonard suggested.

"Right! Very funny. Go get her, go on. That's my idea of homework," Lewis cajoled.

After his dad left, Leonard got his microphone back on and resumed his session.

Sorry about that, folks, technical difficulties. Let's see who we have out there tonight. The usual band of teenage malcontents. I certainly hope so, because Captain Cold is feeling kind of rude tonight.


Let's go out in flames so everyone knows who we are
'Cause these city walls never knew that we'd make it this far
We've become echoes, but echoes are fading away
So let's dance like two shadows, burning out a glory day

Devil's on your shoulder
Strangers in your head
As if you don't remember
As if you can forget
It's only been a moment
It's only been a lifetime
But tonight you're a stranger
Some silhouette
- Silhouette, by Aquilo

After Leonard put on the song he went outside to get some air. It had been a surreal night so far. He'd called Mr. Wilson again and was informed that his phone was being traced. Too bad for the cops that it was a burner phone. They could triangulate his signal, but not to his specific address, especially once he removed the battery and sim card from the phone.

He wasn't surprised that Sara was out there, listening to his cast on her phone.

"It's okay, you don't have to talk, you don't have to say anything and you don't have to do anything, unless you want to," she said, approaching him slowly.

"You're so different," Leonard said. "I mean, you're so fearless. I wish I could be like you."

"You are," Sara said, stepping close to him. They're so close but still not touching. Swaying together in the warm breeze. Almost dancing.

"I wish I could say things to you," Leonard said, raising a hand to hover over her cheek before lowering it.

"You do," Sara said, so earnestly. She grabbed his hand and placed it over her heart.

"Everything's so strange," Leonard whispered, his fingers flexing against her shirt.

"Yeah," Sara agreed, her breath hitching at their nearness.

"Maybe we're just crazy," Leonard said, meeting her eyes.

"So be it," Sara said, rising on her toes and pressing her lips to his.

Leonard wrapped his free arm around her back, pulling Sara closer as she wound her arms around his neck. The kiss was clumsy, messy, all teeth and hard lips, but neither cared. They paused, panting for breath before coming together again in a much more satisfying kiss.

"So be it," Leonard whispered against her lips.

The End