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Cold Cocked

Chapter Text

Back to basics, that was always a solid plan, Len thought.

After the Oculus, after saying good bye to the Legends, Len just wanted something simple. A little heist, a moderate score, a minor risk, no casualties, no real harm. Just something to occupy his mind and body with for awhile.

Just something to get back into the groove of regular life in late 2017. Something to make Len feel normal. Have a little fun. Simple. Should have been, anyway.

Len had even temporarily relocated to Empire City, to avoid any super-types, including a certain scarlet-clad speedster. He’d go back to Central eventually. Len loved it there too much to ever leave forever. But Len wanted simple, for awhile. Central was never simple. That was part of its charm. 

It had gone fine for awhile. Len had pulled some heists successfully. All solo. He didn’t feel like taking on a crew. He’d just do a few more, he thought. Then he’d lay low for awhile. Eventually make his way back to Central.

That was the plan. But of course it went off the rails.

It was just a little jewelry store. Pricey wares, sure, but nothing super extravagant. There was a piece or two he’d liked the look of, though, when he’d cased the place. That it was mob controlled was just an added bonus. He always did like sticking it in the face of Families, even if the ones in Empire City weren’t the same as Central.

Len lifted out a choker necklace from the case it’d been in, careful to not trip any alarms. It was gold, studded with rubies. It sparkled in the dim light of the closed store at night. Len smirked at the sight. It was intended for a person, but Len thought it would look nice on a dog.

Maybe Len should adopt a puppy, he thought nonsensically. He did that more now, after the Oculus. He had trouble concentrating sometimes now. He’d always liked dogs, though never had one. No matter how many people thought cats were more his style. A husky would suit his Cold persona. But Len had always been a bit partial to Labrador retrievers, actually.

Len was distracted, admittedly. But not so distracted that he didn’t notice the shift in lighting, or the blur behind him. He saw the reflection in the display case before the store’s new guest spoke.

“I can’t let you take that, Cold.” The Flash’s confident voice stated from behind Len.

Len smiled. He’d come to this city to avoid this. But somehow now with the superhero standing behind him, arms crossed and feet planted wide apart, watching Len, he found himself pleased at the turn of events.

Flash wanted to play, that much was obvious. Barry could have speed in and grabbed Len by surprise, had him tied up and the jewelry returned before Len had had time to raise his cold gun. But instead Barry had just appeared and was standing there, waiting for his nemesis’ response. Len had missed this more than he had cared to admit.

“Little far from home, aren’t you, Flash?” Len drawled, discretely slipping the choker into the pocket of his parka as he turned around.

Facing Barry made Len smirk more. The speedster was in his recognizable skin-tight scarlet leather suit. Though Len noted it was ever so slightly different from the last time Len had seen it. The gold accents were a bit shinier, the abs were a bit more defined. Barry looked good. Though he always did, to Len.

Len was glad he’d worn a familiar looking navy blue parka with fur lined hood, goggles hanging around his neck. Neither were his originals. But they were close enough. He hadn’t been sure why he wanted to return to that look, a few days ago. It had just felt right, somehow.

“Could say the same about you, Cold.” Barry answered back. “Central boring you lately?”

“More like, there’s too much heat there for my tastes these days.” Len responded.

“Getting lazy in your old age?” Flash taunted.

“Ouch.” Len mock winced. “Maybe you should learn to respect your elders, kid.”

“Maybe you should learn to respect the law and not take things that don’t belong to you.”

As come backs went, that was pretty weak. But they were both a bit out of practice, Len supposed.

“You run across half the country for every jewel thief, now?” Len asked.

“Nope. Just you. You’re my villain. Can’t have you running off and terrorizing another city. Would give me a bad name.”

Len’s stomach twisted at the possessive way Barry said that. The speedster was full on grinning. They’d done this dance many times before, the two of them. Flirting, but only just enough that they could pretend it didn’t mean much. Pushing at each other, but never taking it a step further. But not since Len’s encounter with the Oculus.

Len had thought about seeking Barry out when he got back. He did plan to, eventually. But he had wanted to take his time first, sort himself out. Figure out what he actually wanted to say to the speedster.

Instead, now Barry had come to him first. Crossing half a dozen state lines to do so. Len wasn’t sure what that meant. But he knew he liked it.

“I would hardly call a few heists where no one was hurt terrorizing, Flash! Maybe you need to chill out for awhile!”

Len drew his cold gun, quickly firing in a wide arch that Barry could easily dodge. The speedster did, never losing his wide grin.

They played like that for a few minutes. Len fired, carefully aiming so he didn’t hit anywhere vital on the scarlet speedster. Barry dodged, running around fast enough that his form was a red blur with yellow lightening, but never actually came right at Len.

Barry could have caught him. Len could have iced him. Neither did. Neither wanted to, clearly.

It lasted long enough that Len’s mind began to wander. It did that more now, after the Oculus.

He wondered where this was going. What would happen when Barry tired of the game? He wouldn’t actually turn Len over to the cops, Len was fairly sure. Would he expect Len to talk? Would he want to know what happened to Len while he was presumed dead? While he swam in the time stream, desperately trying to keep his head above water? Trying to not lose himself, his actual life, in the torrent of possibilities? While he saw…so many things…so many times

Len wasn’t ready to talk about it. He might never be. He tried not to even think about it. He’d managed to block most of it out. Most days.

Len was distracted. Too distracted. He misaimed. He shot the cold gun and it connected with Barry’s legs, freezing them over and forcing the speedster to an abrupt halt.

Barry looked surprised, then betrayed and hurt, before settling on annoyance and huffing and pouting. Len forced his own face to remain blank. To not show the guilt turning his stomach. To not show how adorable he found his nemesis. To not show his regret at ever causing Barry pain again.

He had to keep up the act. He had to pretend he meant to do that. If he didn’t…Len didn’t know what would happen. Whatever it was, he didn’t feel ready for it. Len didn’t like being a coward. But he liked the idea of confronting his conflicted feelings toward the Flash even less.

So Len turned tail and ran, like a coward. He didn’t pause to pocket any more loot. He didn’t even manage to voice a parting jab at his frozen foe. He felt pathetic. But at least he was free and clear of being confronted with anything he wasn’t ready to face.

Len left the store, knowing the cops had to be on their way. The two of them had to have tripped alarms while they were mock fighting in there. But now that he thought about it, he realized it was strange that he didn’t hear sirens yet. The street outside was totally disserted.

Len frowned, getting a bad feeling. He ducked behind a dumpster a few doors down and stopped to look around. He had a good view of the inside of the jewelry store from there. The street lamps shined into the window well enough that he could see Barry.

The speedster was vibrating, doubtlessly trying to get out of the ice boots Len had left him with. At least Barry’s cowl was still on. He hadn’t taken it off, like he sometimes did with Len. His secret identity would be safe.

But Len still felt like something was wrong. The cops should be there by now.

Finally, headlights brightened the deserted street and cars followed. But there were no sirens. No red and blue flashing lights. Len swallowed hard, feeling suddenly sick. These were no cops. The silent alarms hadn’t called the police. They’d called somewhere much worse. These were mob enforcers.

Len should have checked where the alarms called, during his prep for the heist. But he hadn’t planned to trip them, so he hadn’t bothered. Now Barry was about to pay for Len’s laziness. His stomach clenched with guilt.

Len made himself stay still and hidden as beefy brutish men piled out of the cars. They were just normal men. Barry dealt with super powered metahumans nightly. The kid could handle himself.

At least, the kid could handle himself when he was paying attention to his surroundings, when he knew what to expect, when he had his team in his ear watching his back. None of those seemed to be the case at the moment.

Barry was expecting the cops. Why wouldn’t he be? He was expecting friendly, if exasperated faces of police that’d heard of him if never met him. He wasn’t expecting mob men that would kill anything that moved sooner than question it.

Barry wasn’t even facing the door. He didn’t even turn when the mob goons entered. He was still trying to get himself free of the ice Len had left on his legs. He didn’t even get a chance to make a move to defend himself.

One of the mobsters clocked Barry hard over the head with the butt end of his gun. The speedster crumpled to the ground, knocked out.

Len bit down hard on his lip to stop himself from shouting. He forced himself to not jump up shooting. There were eight men, all armed with guns and knives, doubtlessly. There was only one of him, with no back up. Even with the cold gun in his favor, the odds were bad.

He needed to be smart. Wait and let them make the next move. His bike was nearby. He could follow them if they took Barry somewhere in the cars. Rushing in now without a plan might get both of them shot.

Len briefly considered calling someone. His cell was in his pants pocket. But who was he going to call? Cops would just complicate the entire thing and add to the likelihood of someone getting shot by antsy mob goons. Len didn’t have a number for Star Labs. Lisa could get word to Cisco, eventually. They had another speedster now too, Len knew. He could get there, eventually. But eventually was far too late. If they had been keeping track of Barry, likely he was already on his way anyway. But Len doubted it. The game Len and Barry had been playing felt personal, playful, not professional. He doubted Barry had bothered with being in communication with his team for it.

The mob goons were talking amongst themselves, but Len wasn’t close enough to hear. He forced himself to keep waiting and watching, his entire body tense. His hand twitched near his cold gun, itching to pull the trigger and ice the lot of them. If only he could manage that without making it worse.

The mobsters picked up Barry, one grabbed his arms, another his legs, and began carrying his limp form. Len scowled as he saw Barry’s lower legs were still encased in a block of ice. But at least it’d melted enough he wasn’t stuck to the floor. Len didn’t want to think about what they might have done if they couldn’t easily move him.

To Len’s surprise, they didn’t take Barry to their cars. They carried him down the street, towards the nearby park. Len’s scowl deepened. This wasn’t good. He hurried to follow on foot, but kept far enough back to stay out of sight.

Len followed them through the park path, at a safe distance. With a mounting feeling of dread, Len began to suspect what was about to happen. Fucking mobsters and their perchance for playing on the classics. Len hoped he was wrong.

If only they’d split up, just left three or four of them for this, Len might have been able to take them. But eight trained mobsters against one rusty thief? His chances were still shit. If he rushed them, he’d still make it worse.

Len mentally cursed himself. If he knew this Family better, he might have been able to talk them out of this. Come to some deal. If he’d been in Central, they would have heard of him. But he had no sway in this city. He hadn’t bothered to gather much intel on the mob itself, only what he’d needed to break into the jewelry store. Len had been a fool, and Barry was suffering for it.

Len still considered jumping out, gun raised, and trying to talk his way out of this. But the men had only spoken for a few moments before going this course. They hadn’t even considered letting the Flash wake up and question him. Captain Cold appearing likely wouldn’t change that. As bad as this was going to be, gunshot wounds would only make it worse.

The mobsters had reached the edge of the lake in the park, Barry still unconscious in their grips. They walked up onto the small wooden dock on the lake, while Len ducked behind a tree. Lights on the dock and on the nearby path illuminated their actions while Len watched with growing fury and fear. The goons holding Barry swung him twice to build up momentum, and then unceremoniously tossed him into the lake.

Len’s entire body shook with rage and helplessness. It was mid-December. It was the middle of the night. The water was freezing.

Barry could recover from the cold, normally. Len knew that, of course. Barry could use his powers to move enough to generate heat and avoid permanent damage after Len iced part of him. But not while he was unconscious.

“He ain’t sinking.” One of the goons spoke.

“Ice ain’t cement, stupid. It floats.” Another answered. “But it don’t matter. He ain’t moving. His head is going under. He either drowns, or he freezes. Either way, one dead meddling superhero. No evidence from any of our guns. Will send a nice message we don’t take kindly to their types in this town.”

Oh, Len was going to kill them. He was going to rip apart that Family until nothing was left. If he survived this.

Len’s hands were clenched so tightly into firsts that his nails dug deep into his palms. He was still shaking. He forced himself to wait another few painful seconds, until finally the disgusting mobsters turned and left. He forced himself to wait another terrible slow few moments, until they were far enough away they couldn’t see or hear anything.

Then Len chucked off his parka and dropped the cold gun on the ground. They’d only weigh him down. He’d already removed his gloves. He didn’t waste time with his boots or other clothes, leaving them all on. He sprinted onto the dock and jumped into the icy water after Barry.

The shock of how cold it was sent all the air out of his lungs. He almost panicked, but he forced it down. He’d survived swimming in the time stream for over a year without drowning. He wasn’t going to be killed by a pathetic little park lake!

Len could see Barry, thankful for the bright red of the costume making him hard to lose. Len swam hard, as quickly as he could, toward the unconscious speedster. He kicked his arms and legs, listening to the splashes and trying to ignore how they were already going numb.

Len got his arms around Barry’s torso, he lifted him up to get his head above water. He didn’t seem to be breathing, but Len couldn’t waste time checking. He starting swimming again, dragging Barry with him.

Thankfully, the lake was relatively small and the shore not very slopped. Len got them both out of the water. He was panting and shaking, he barely felt his body it’d gone so numb.

Len tugged Barry’s cowl off, cursing at his own numb fingers as it took several tries, trying to check if he was breathing. He couldn’t tell. He started chest compressions with his hands, counting to himself, his own heart pounding in his head in fear and self accusation.

Before he got to 30, Barry coughed, water pouring from his mouth, and started gasping for air. Len felt himself breathe again, too. Len said Barry’s name several times, but the speedster didn’t respond. Barry wasn’t conscience, but at least he was alive and breathing.

But they were far from safe yet. Len hauled Barry up, dragging them to where his parka was. He wrapped up the speedster in it. He slung his cold gun into its holster. He almost just left it, but the danger of anyone else getting a hold of it was too great.

Len carried Barry as quickly as he could, his own arms and legs still numb, his entire body shivering. It was snowing, he belatedly realized. His own fault. He’d purposely chosen that night to hit that store, because a severe snow storm was predicted. No one would be out. Roads would be closed in precaution.

This was all Len’s fault, he knew. But he didn’t have time to think about that now.

 As numb as he was, trying to drive his bike and hold onto Barry would be damn dangerous. And he didn’t know where the nearest hospital was. This was a business district. No nearby homes to bang on doors of and ask for help. If he’d even trusted their luck to do so. Breaking into a car or a building would likewise be damn difficult with numb and shaking hands. Lots of bad, bad options.

Len considered calling an ambulance for a half second before he remembered his phone had been in his pants when he jumped into the lake. It wasn’t water proof.

They were on their own.

Thankfully, the old store he was using as a safe house wasn’t far. He could make it there, he told himself. He had to.

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End Note

Cruel cliffhanger, I know. I will try and update quickly! Likely this will only be 3-4 chapters long total.

Len is still human here, to be clear. So he is just as susceptible to cold as any normal human. I love metahuman Len, but that wasn’t where I wanted to go with this fic.

Chapter Text

As many times as Len had imagined divesting Barry of his Flash suit to reveal his naked form underneath, none had gone like this.

Len had gotten them into the little apartment above the abandoned store he was using as a safe house. He’d laid Barry on the floor of the bedroom, cranking the heat up as far as the old radiator in the room could go. The ice from his cold gun had melted off of Barry’s legs, at least. Len grabbed some towels from the bathroom, and then Len shed his own clothes.

If he got worse because he waited to undress himself, he’d be no help to Barry. He’d tossed the garments aside without a second thought. Then he took his parka off the soaking speedster and threw it on top of the clothes pile. He quickly toweled himself off, especially trying to get his hands dry enough to work better.

Now naked, Len started pawing at Barry with his numb shaking hands, trying to figure out how to get the damn suit off him. There was no obvious zipper or snaps to open. The belt was attached to the suit, and under it there was no clear divide between pants and top. The thing seemed to be one solid piece of strong leather-like fabric.

“You should come with instructions, kid.” Len muttered to himself.

Len’s brain unhelpfully supplied terms like ‘handle with care, emotions hurt easily’ and ‘warning: dangerously effortless to become attached to’. He shoved those aside and continued to ungracefully grope Barry’s body, looking for an opening in the costume.

He considered trying to find scissors or a knife and just cutting the thing off. That was how paramedics did it, when they needed to help someone by getting their clothes off quickly. But Len thought the suit might be strong enough to resist being cut like that. And he didn’t want to risk slipping with his numb fingers and slicing into Barry.

Finally, Len found the zipper, hidden around the collar of the suit. More frustrating seconds passed as his shaking fingers refused to grab the little tab of metal to unzip it. At last he managed it and dragged the zipper down, exposing Barry’s cold naked form underneath. At least he didn’t wear anything underneath the suit, apparently. In a different situation, that would have been arousing. Here, it just made things go a bit faster, thankfully. But even then, it wasn’t exactly easy to untangle Barry’s limp limbs from the soaked suit.

Eventually, Len finally had Barry free of the costume, and tossed the suit into the pile of clothes. Len’s eyes raked over Barry’s now naked body, wishing he could appreciate the sight, but just worried at how blue tinted his skin was. Len toweled Barry off quickly, lighting patting just to remove any dripping water.

Len lifted Barry one more time, now with both of them free of clothes, long stretches of their naked skin touching, but Len could barely feel it. They were both far too cold.

Len got them into bed, got all the blankets he had on top of them, then wrapped himself around Barry as much as he could. Their shared body heat, skin to skin, was the most likely to save them now. He tucked his chin against where Barry’s shoulder met his neck. Absently Len wished he got to find out what Barry smelled like this close. But all he smelled was lake water.

Len wanted to stay awake, that seemed safer. But it was impossible to fight the exhaustion anymore. He was out cold moments later.

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Barry was cold. So so cold! That was all he was aware of, for some time. He was shivering, vibrating at super-speed to try and get himself warm. It wasn’t working nearly as fast as he wanted it to. But it was working. He drifted in and out of consciousness several times, he thought. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed.

Eventually, he slowly became aware of more. He was in a bed, under many layers of blankets. And he wasn’t alone. Someone was in the bed with him, under the covers with Barry; someone that felt just as cold as Barry, if not more so.

Barry clung to the person, uncaring for the moment who it was. He vibrated them both together, hoping to warm them both. He was acting on instinct.

Barry began to warm up, his enhanced healing abilities doing their job. As he did so, his brain slowly began to clear too. The memory of where he’d been and what he’d been doing last began to return to him.

He remembered being in the jewelry store and hearing other people coming in. He remembered stupidly assuming they were police. He hadn’t even bothered to turn to face them. Too preoccupied by trying to free himself from the ice that Len had left on his legs. Too preoccupied by his own thoughts.

When had Barry starting thinking of Snart as Len? When had Barry’s feelings been more hurt by the fact that Len had actually shoot him, than the pain of the real ice on his legs? What was he even doing, going all that way to confront the man, just for stealing some jewelry? And without even telling anyone he’d gone. Was he that lonely? Thoughts like those were what had been filling his head.

He remembered a sharp pain from being hit on the head. Then nothing. Then cold. So much cold. Much more than the one shot from the cold gun that Len had hit him with.

Barry refused to believe that Len had actually meant for him to get seriously hurt. He wouldn’t have left, just to come back and knock Barry out. It wasn’t his style. Not anymore.

The Legends had told Barry about Len’s return from the dead…or return from the floating in the time stream, more accurately. They’d confirmed it was their original Leonard Snart, his memories and temperament intact. They’d told Barry they were dropping him off back in the present, but that Barry had nothing to worry about from him. Barry believed them.

The heists Len had gone on since he’d gotten back had been no real threat to anyone. There was no real reason for Barry to bother to try and stop him. But yet he had, running across half the country to do so.

He was just that lonely, Barry admitted to himself. Lonely and missing Len. Missing the fun of fighting Captain Cold. Missing the easy banter and playful back and forth. Missing the way the man looked in those tight black pants. Missing those sharp blue eyes on Barry…ok, Barry had it bad. He could admit that much to himself.

He also could admit he’d been jealous that Len had chosen to operate in a different city, so far away. Like he was purposely avoiding Barry since he got back. It shouldn’t have hurt so much. They were nemeses. Not friends. Len didn’t owe Barry anything.

But still Barry wanted Len’s attention. He wanted Len close by. So Barry had run after him and demanded his notice. Like a spoiled child denied playing a game, he chided himself.

If Barry hadn’t stuck his nose in where it didn’t belong, neither of them would be freezing half to death. Because that was what was happening, he realized. Beyond vibrating, Barry couldn’t manage to move his body yet. Barry hadn’t managed to open his eyes, yet. But he didn’t doubt who the person shivering in bed with him had to be.

He didn’t doubt that Len had saved him. How or from who, he wasn’t sure. But he was convinced he was right. That was who Len was now, regardless of his past, regardless of still indulging in the occasional heist. Len was a hero, no matter how he’d deny it. Barry knew that.

When Barry was finally able to open his eyes and move a little, still vibrating to keep warm, he was prepared for who the person in the bed with him was. He wasn’t prepared for them both to be fully naked under the blankets. Though maybe he should have been. Of course it was the fastest way for both of them to get warm.

Barry felt a moment of embarrassment, but it passed quickly as he saw just how blue Len’s lips were. Barry swore and put a hand near Len’s mouth, checking that he was breathing. He was, though shallowly. Barry pulled Len closer to him, bringing their bodies flush against each other, trying to share what warmth he had. He kept vibrating, trying to generate more heat.

Barry looked around the room frantically. It was pretty bare. A radiator buzzed in the corner, blowing heat. His Flash suit and Len’s clothes were in a heap on the floor, in the middle of a puddle from dripping, and still looked soaked. A closed window let in light through the glass, but also showed a full blown snow storm raging outside.

Barry winced. Even if he got the strength to speed out for help, that made it much more difficult. Snow was tricky for him to run on, especially if there was a layer of ice underneath. As great as running them both to a hospital would be, it could also be a disaster. As exhausted as Barry was, still recovering himself, Barry might not make it to a hospital. If he slipped and fell, or passed out, while carrying Len…Barry didn’t want to think about what the damage of falling from a super-speed run would be for a normal person.

Not able to think of anything more helpful to do, Barry just held Len tightly and kept vibrating against him for warmth. Len couldn’t come back to life after all he’d been through, just to die saving Barry. If Len didn’t survive this, Barry was never going to forgive himself.

Before long, Barry fell asleep, still tightly clinging to Len and vibrating softly.

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When Len opened his eyes, gorgeous green ones were staring back at him in concern. Barry looked better, Len noted with relief. Color had returned to his face and he seemed alert and aware.

Len tore his gaze from Barry’s with some difficulty, scanning the surroundings quickly with his eyes. They were still in the safe house room that Len had got them to. They were still in bed together. They were still both naked, from what Len could tell. Barry was holding him tightly and vibrating. Sadly, Len could barely feel it. He was shivering too hard himself, and his body felt mostly numb.

“Such a shame.” Len tried to say, but it came out a half whispered cough.

“Len! You are awake! What? What did you say?” Barry’s worried voice asked.

“It’s such a shame.” Len managed to get out, after clearing his throat several times.

“What is?” Barry asked, frowning.

“I’ve finally got you naked and vibrating for me, and I’m too numb to enjoy it.” Len tried to smirk, but his frozen lips refused to cooperate.

That got a surprised laugh out of Barry. Len felt proud and pleased, despite their current predicament.

“Get through this alright, and I promise to vibrate for you whenever you want.” Barry offered.

Len’s stomach flipped in interest at the idea, despite how numb his body currently was.

“Naked.”

“What?”

“Make it to vibrate for me naked, whenever I want, and we’ve got a deal.” Len specified.

Barry laughed again. He might have tightened his hold on Len. Len thought he felt like Barry had, but that might just be wishful thinking.

“Ok, Len, ok, deal.”

Len might have grinned in response. He wasn’t sure if his lips were listening to him yet or not.

No way he was dying now, with that to look forward to. That was a promise showing real interest in taking their flirting to the next level, Len thought. Or at least he hoped so. He hoped it wasn’t just Barry humoring a dead man.

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If he hadn’t been worried about Len dying, Barry would have had a serious hard on by now. Vibrating against someone, skin to skin, was damn erotic. That the someone was Leonard, who Barry had recently admitted to himself he had a long time crush on, only made it harder. But his concern over Len was as good as cold water on Barry’s dick, so it behaved despite all the vibrating against Len’s naked body.

Although, cold water was what had gotten them into this mess in the first place, Barry thought with a sigh. Barry had pieced together what had happened, from the evidence of their soaked clothes drying on the hardwood floor, and Len’s half conscience mumblings when he woke up from time to time.

At least Len had seemed more lucid this time. He’d been aware of where they were and what was happening enough to flirt with Barry about the naked vibrating.

Len’s skin against Barry’s was finally beginning to feel less like a block of ice, finally generating some warmth of its own. Still, Barry kept vibrating and kept Len close, pressed against him. He wasn’t risking moving until he was sure Len was going to recover.

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The next time he woke up, Len was alone in bed. He was wearing his own sleep clothes and the blankets were tucked closely around him. He still felt cold, and sore, and sick. But he didn’t feel numb anymore, at least. He hesitantly tested his body, shifting and flexing. Everything seemed to work. He could feel everything, including his fingers and toes. So it seemed he had survived without any major damage, thankfully.

Len tried to sigh in relief, only to start coughing instead. He hacked for several long painful moments. That did not sound or feel good.

When he managed to look up again, Barry was in front of him holding a steaming mug. He was wearing another set of Len’s sleep clothes. He was frowning in concern.

“You sound terrible. But you look better than you did, at least.” Barry commented. “I found your stash of food and managed to get the ancient microwave in the kitchen to work. It’s still snowing like crazy out. But at least we’ve got electricity and the building’s heating works.”

“How long?” Len tried to ask.

“It’s been at least a day, I think. Your cell phone is dead, so is my communicator in the Flash suit. There’s no land line phone here, or TV, or radio. I’m not sure how long I was out before I healed enough to wake up.”

Len sighed, then started coughing again. Great. That was just peachy.

“Here, soup. Do you…can you hold the mug, or do you need me to…?”

Len sat up, reached for the mug, and tentatively took it. Len’s hands obeyed his commands and he felt the warmth through the mug. That was a relief, no matter how appealing Barry hand feeding him might be under better circumstances.

The mug was navy blue with the words ‘Bentley’s Books’ printed on it. That was the name of the store under this apartment. Or it had been, until it went out of business nearly a full decade ago. Nothing had ever come along to replace it and it’d sat abandoned. Len had been using it as a safe house while he was in town, not going downstairs or showing any sign of life in the store. He just used the above apartment.

Len drank the soup and relaxed a bit as it soothed his throat. It was just canned soup. But it tasted good enough. He didn’t have the ingredients there for much cooking. But he had enough canned and packaged meals to last them a few days at least, even with Barry’s speedster metabolism. He’d stocked the place in case he had to lay low there awhile and not go out much.

Once Len was done eating, exhaustion took hold of him. He lay back down in the bed, too tired to do anything else. Not that there was much that could be done, anyway.

A few moments later, Barry joined him in bed, getting under the covers and moving close enough to Len that their sides touched. Len’s first instinct was the burrow closer to Barry’s warm body, but he held himself back.

“Barry, you…you don’t have to. I’m warm enough, now.”

“And what if I want to?”

Len shivered at that, he couldn’t help himself. He didn’t have the strength for any further resistance. He moved closer to Barry, wrapping his arms around the speedster’s warmth. Barry returned the hug, even hooking his legs around Len’s.

Len liked this, maybe more than he should, he thought. It was further proof that his feelings for Barry were developing deeper than ever before. He always would have been happy to have sex with the speedster, if he’d ever gotten the opportunity. Now, Len was happy to cuddle with him. That might be a problem, or it might not. Len wasn’t sure yet.

 Len was asleep before he could ponder it all any further, cradled in Barry’s warm, comforting embrace. Outside, the wind howled and the snow continued to fall.

Chapter Text

It was another two days before the snow fully let up and the city began to dig its way out. Barry and Len spent the majority of that time sleeping and snuggling in bed for warmth. The building’s heating made the space livable, but it still felt chilly to Barry. With Len sick, it had to feel even worse to him. But it wasn’t like cuddling in bed with Len was a hardship for Barry. If Len had been well, Barry would have been enjoying this.

Barry made them food as needed. He explored the abandoned store under the apartment, found it’d been left mostly still stocked, and grabbed a few old books to look at in bed. They didn’t talk much. Len didn’t seem to have the energy for it. Which was fine. Barry started reading aloud to him, rather than speed read through books himself. Len didn’t protest.

By the time the snow let up, Barry was fully recovered, thanking his enhanced healing for again saving him. He went out for supplies, speeding through stores for what he needed. Careful to avoid slipping on the still somewhat icy sidewalks.

Barry had no desire to shop at normal human speed. He wanted to get what he needed and get back to Len. Len was getting better, but still sick enough that Barry didn’t like leaving him alone for long.

Barry grabbed a burner phone, using it to call Cisco and let him know what’d happened. Cisco would pass on the news to the others. Barry just explained briefly, but enough that they knew it might be awhile until he made it back. He also called Captain Singh, telling him he was stuck out of town in the snow and taking some personal time off. He had a lot of days piled up he could use, so that was accepted with minimal protest.

Back at the apartment above the old book store, Barry checked on Len. He was still sleeping and seemed no worse than before. Barry put the cold medicine, cough drops, and tissues he’d gotten on the nightstand near Len.

Thinking Len had to be tired of the canned stuff, Barry got to work making soup from scratch.

When he gave it to Len later, the thief eyed him suspiciously. It wasn’t because he didn’t trust Barry’s cooking though, as Barry had suspected.

“Did you steal the ingredients to make this?”

“I…well…I’ll pay them back later! It’s not like I carry money in the Flash suit!”

Len’s pleased smirk in response was almost as gratifying as Len’s compliments on his cooking, a moment later.

---------------------------------------

“You don’t have to stay here, you know.” Len spoke up. “I’m well enough to take care of myself now.”

Len hadn’t wanted to say it. He didn’t want Barry to leave. He didn’t want to go back to canned soup after eating Barry’s handmade soup. He didn’t want to be alone in this empty apartment. He didn’t want Barry to stop reading aloud to him. But he didn’t want Barry staying out of some misguided sense of responsibility, if he was needed back in Central.

It had been days now since the snow had let up. They had to be missing Barry back home, by now.

“And what if I want to stay?” Barry asked, repeating similar words he’d used before, to convince Len it was alright to accept Barry’s continued presence in his bed.

Len waited, sitting in bed silently asking for more details. He watched Barry shift back and forth on his feet a little, standing a few feet away from the bed.

“It’s fine. I’m due for some time off. Wally can take care of Central City for a week or two fine without me.”

 “Oh, so Kid Flash’s name is Wally?” Len teased, as if he hadn’t already known.

Barry winced, and then scowled.

“Oh, shut up and drink your hot cocoa!” Barry huffed. “I got you the multi-color mini-marshmallows you asked for and everything!”

Len smirked, obediently taking a sip and eying Barry over the cheerful colored sweets topped mug. It was delicious. Just like he liked. So was Barry.

He’d given Barry a chance to walk out, the perfect excuse, and he hadn’t taken it. It seemed too good to be true, that Barry really wanted to stay.  But Len would accept it. He knew better than to refuse such a gift.

----------------------------------

Barry swore, the next time Len smirked at him like that, Barry was going to give into his impulse and kiss that grin right off the thief’s face!

They’d been sharing a bed together for days. Snuggling in the bed together, far longer than either of them strictly needed it for warmth. Len had barely left the bed as he’d recovered. Barry hadn’t wanted to leave Len alone in that bed.

Barry had been enjoying reading aloud to Len, using the books left in the abandoned store downstairs. He’d kept at it, even once he could have gotten other entertainment now that he could go out. They had similar tastes in literature, surprisingly. They both enjoyed sci-fi and had fun with the old paperbacks he’d found.

Len appreciated Barry’s cooking, even when Barry cycled through the same few soups he knew how to make. He didn’t think moving Len to anything heavier than that yet was wise. But Barry wished he could make him other things. He knew Len had a sweet tooth and thought of meals he might like. Barry could easily make chocolate chip pancakes, sweet and sour chicken with rice, maybe pork with peanut sauce. He hoped he would get a chance to try, later, when Len was better. He hoped Len would want that.

As much as Barry loved squaring off as the Flash against Captain Cold, he loved this domestic comfort with Len too. He was relieved Len hadn’t protested Barry staying, whether he really needed him to or not. Barry liked being there. He wanted to do more with Len than cuddle, read books, and cook. Much, much more.

Len was getting better, barely coughing any more now. There was no reason to wait much longer, Barry thought. The electricity between the two of them was undeniable. Barry was tired of pretending he didn’t notice. If Len wasn’t going to make the first move, then Barry was!

Actually, fuck it, Len was still smirking at him. He’d set the mug down, so no accidents involving hot cocoa burns would occur. Before he lost his nerve, Barry was doing it now!

Barry flashed forward the few feet between them and kissed Leonard on the lips. Len gasped, to Barry’s satisfaction, letting Barry easily sneak his tongue into Len’s mouth. Len tasted like cocoa and sugar, as expected from what he’d just been drinking.

Barry had a few seconds to worry he’d gotten this wrong, that Len didn’t really want to do this, then Len gave back as good as he got.  He bit and licked at Barry’s lips. Len gripped Barry’s neck with long skillful fingers, pulling Barry closer to him. Barry went, happily and easily, moving onto his knees on the bed, nearly on top of Len.

“So am I better enough now then?” Len was smirking again.

“What?” Barry blinked.

“If I recovered, I was promised the services of a naked vibrating speedster of my very own.” Len teased, then sobered a bit. “Unless you weren’t serious. Of course I won’t hold you to that, if it’s not what you want.”

“Oh, I was serious. I want that, Len. I do. And I seem to recall not being the only one naked, when we made that agreement.”

“Nothing in our deal about replicating that.” Len taunted. “But I’m a flexible individual. I can agree to these terms. You’re the one that got us back to wearing clothes, after all.”

Barry blushed and bit his lip, but didn’t back down. He stared at Len, waiting for him to outright say it.

“Get us naked, Barry.”

Barry didn’t hesitate. He flashed both their clothes away. He went fast enough that Len could barely notice being moved, and then sat back down in the bed sans a scrap of clothing.

Barry also flashed in a few items he’d grabbed at the store and kept in the back of a kitchen closet, just in case, setting them on the nightstand. Len turned and blinked at them.

“Did you steal us lube and condoms?”

Barry shrugged, refusing to be ashamed. It was good to be prepared. If Barry’s act of minor theft helped to turn Len on, all the better.

“Before we start, how far do you want this to go, Barry?” Len asked, seemingly prompted by the appearance of the supplies. “I can be happy with some nice naked vibrating and grinding together. We could both get off easily enough that way.

“But I am definitely up to more with you, if you’d want that.”

Barry’s heart sped up, he swallowed and licked his lips. He’d started this. Why go half way, when he knew he wanted everything Len was offering?

“This started thanks to me getting cold cocked with a gun. Which was not fun for either of us.” Barry grumbled. “I’d like to get good cold cocked out of it, now.”

Barry looked down at Len’s exposed dick, limp at the moment, but hopefully soon taking noted interest in the proceedings. He tried to make his meaning clear about what he’d just said, with the stare.

Len burst out laughing.

“Oh, Barry! Stealing and making puns! You do know the way to my heart, after all!”

Len grinned at him, clasping his hands to his heart in a teasing gesture, and Barry grinned widely back. Barry really hoped that was true. He’d love if this wasn’t just a one time thing. He’d like to have an actual romantic relationship with Len. He thought the last few days proved they be good together, not just as nemeses. But he wasn’t going to get ahead of himself. For now he was just going to enjoy this.

Barry recaptured Len’s lips, moving to actually sit in Len’s lap this time. Barry’s bare butt connected with Len’s warm thighs. Meeting skin to skin with Len, feeling for the first time it was at the right temperature, sent a delighted thrill through Barry’s stomach and straight to his cock.

Barry let his hands and mouth explore Len’s warm skin, feeling Len do the same to him. Barry loved how scratchy Len’s face was against him, silver stubble lining Len’s chin from lack of shaving the past stretch of days. His hair was longer than usual too, and Barry ran his hands through it. Len tipped back his head, Barry not hesitating to apply his teeth to his neck to give him some nice hickeys.

How soon was too soon to start vibrating? Would Len outright ask him to again? Barry wasn’t sure. Then he felt Len grab his ass and give a good squeeze, and Barry’s cock throbbed in response. Maybe Barry was too eager, but whatever. Barry didn’t care. Len wasn’t hard yet, and that just wasn’t fair! Barry started vibrating in Len’s lap, scooting forward to make sure the vibrations connected with Len’s cock.

“Fuck, Barry!” Len’s gasp was supremely satisfying to hear.

Barry grinned, pleased with himself, and Len smirked back. Barry vibrated faster and wiped that smirk off his face, replaced with another sharp intake of breath. Len’s mouth was open in a little ‘o’ shape, and Barry couldn’t resist sticking his fingers inside. Len didn’t seem to mind, starting to suck Barry’s fingers without hesitation.

Barry kept vibrating against Len and delighted in feeling Len’s cock harden in response. He could get Len off, just like that, Barry proudly thought. But he wanted more than just grinding together, like they’d agreed. Barry slowed his vibrations, just a tad, to make sure it didn’t end too quickly.

“Want you to suck me!” Barry whimpered. “Then I want to ride you! Can I? Is that…?”

“Sounds like a plan to me.” Len stopped sucking Barry’s fingers to answer. “I hear that next to no regain time is one of your perks. I believe I do require a demonstration of that.” 

Barry stopped vibrating, for the moment. Len shifted, moving to get up and reposition them. Barry shoved him back down without thinking, pushing at Len’s shoulders and forcing him to lie back in the bed. Len raised his eyebrows at him, looking up at Barry in question. But thankfully he didn’t seem to mind the slightly rough treatment.

“You just stay there! You’re still weak!” Barry huffed.

“I’m really not.” Len chuckled. “But I can let you do the work, if you want, Barry. I can let you take care of me. If that’s what you want.”

Barry blushed, but he also grinned and nodded. He hadn’t expected Len to be this accommodating during sex, asking Barry what he wanted and letting Barry take the lead. But Barry definitely liked it, and Len seemed to too.

Barry scooted up Len’s body, until he was crouched near Len’s head, Barry’s legs spread wide. He gripped the headboard to give himself support and make sure he wouldn’t choke Len. Barry’s erect cock was near Len’s lips. Len licked his lips suggestively at the sight, then opened his mouth wide for Barry. Barry almost came at the sight alone!

Len put his stunning hands on Barry’s cock, long fingers easily guiding the length into Len’s waiting mouth. Then he started sucking and Barry outright moaned. Len was really good at this, not that Barry had expected anything less.

Barry let himself thrust into Len’s mouth, just a little. Len took it without protest or gagging, spurring Barry on. Barry locked eyes with Len while he fucked his mouth. Len was gorgeous like this, taking Barry’s cock like a pro. Len was always gorgeous, of course. But this, this was something Barry had never expected to get to see outside of his dreams.

Not surprisingly, Barry didn’t last much longer. He pulled back, warning Len he was close. Len just clamped his lips down on the tip of Barry’s cock and took it. He swallowed everything Barry gave him, as Barry closed his eyes and threw back his head as he came, his entire body throbbing in pleasure.

When he was done, Barry moved back and lay down on top of Len. He felt Len’s still hard cock against his body. Barry would get to that soon. He just needed a few seconds, thanks to speedster skills.

Len was smirking at him again, clearly pleased with himself, and in no hurry. He ran his hands through Barry’s hair, the caress soothing.

“Sorry, I…I should have asked if you wanted me to use a condom for that.” Barry winced as the thought struck him.

“Relax! If I hadn’t wanted to swallow, I wouldn’t have. You warned me before you came. I know you’re clean, with your super immune system. I’m clean. We don’t even need the condoms, unless you want to use them.”

Barry sighed in relief as Len continued to pet his hair.

“I guess I stole condoms for nothing then.” Barry laughed.

“Not for nothing.” Len disagreed. “It impressed and touched me, actually. And the lube, we will definitely be using…whenever you’re ready to ride me.”

Barry shivered at the thought and his cock throbbed, already nearly ready for more. He sat up, still on top of Len, and easily reached the lube on the nightstand. He eyed Len’s hands and couldn’t help imagining them inside him.

“If you want me to get you ready, give me that and get your butt over here.” Len twirled his fingers suggestively. “Someone apparently wants me to stay on my back in bed while I’m still recovering.”

Barry smiled and obeyed, handing the bottle to Len and again moving up his body. Barry lifted himself up onto his knees, his legs spread on either side of Len’s torso, positioning himself so Len could easily get his fingers into Barry. Len opened the bottle and started generously covering his fingers in lube.

“You’re fucking gorgeous like this Barry, you know that, right? So sweet and eager, and all mine!” Len’s words sent another delighted shiver through Barry’s body.

“Yes, Len! Yours!”

Barry tried to get his butt closer to Len’s fingers, impatient, while Len smirked at him. A moment later though, Len started to slide a long digit in, aggravatingly slow. As soon as Len’s finger was fully inside his hole, Barry started vibrating again. Len took pity on him, and went a bit faster, soon adding another finger and scissoring him open.

Len kept at it, fingering Barry’s hole while smirking at him, for quite awhile. Barry was whimpering and wondered if Len would ever deem him ready. Then a thought struck him. Barry had taken charge of everything else so far. Why should this be any different?

Determined, Barry sat up further on his knees, forcing Len’s fingers to fall out of him. Len’s smile grew, as if pleased Barry had finally figured it out. Grumbling a little, Barry grabbed back the lube and put some into his hand, shifting his body further down on Len’s.

He gripped Len’s cock, slathering it with lube while Len hissed in pleasure at the contact. Barry was half tempted to speed cover Len’s cock with lube, but doubted Len could handle that without coming. And Barry really did want to ride him.

So he did. Barry lowered himself onto Len’s cock, forcing himself to go slowly to make it last. He didn’t hold back the deep sigh he felt to finally have Len filling him up. He then starting bouncing on Len’s cock, slowly at first; but soon speeding up, too impatient to wait much longer. He started vibrating, grinning widely as Len outright moaned at that.

The ride didn’t last long after that, but Barry loved every second of it. Len lost it inside Barry, shooting his come into him while gasping Barry’s name. Len gripped Barry’s cock, quickly tugging Barry to another orgasm while Len was still coming.

Barry leaned down onto Len, Len’s cock still inside him, and kissed him. Len’s hands ended up in his hair, then squeezing his ass, as they both came down from their mutual release. Barry just lay on top for Len for a few minutes, both of them breathing heavily together. He was tempted to doze off like that. But he wanted to take better care of Len than that.

Barry slid off Len, gently letting Len’s cock fall out of him. He then flashed to the bathroom, cleaned himself up a bit, then flashed back with a warm wet washcloth and cleaned Len. He flashed the washcloth back into the sink, then flashed back to the bed.

Barry cuddled into Len, kissing him again. To his relief, Len kissed back and held him tightly. It seemed that Len didn’t want this to suddenly be over then, after having sex. Barry sighed in relief.

They fell asleep together, warm in each other’s arms.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

When Barry woke up, he was alone. The bed was cold. Len long gone.

Barry felt like he’d been punched in the stomach. He crumbled into himself, ready to cry. He tried to remind himself that he’d known that Len might not want more. They’d made no promises to each other. But he’d thought Len would at least stay to say good bye!

Barry frowned as he noticed a heavy weight around his neck. Confusion momentarily pushed aside his despair. He flashed to the bathroom and looked in the mirror.

Barry blinked as his reflection. A thick gold choker, studded with rubies, was on his neck. It looked a lot like a collar. It was what Len had been stealing, Barry remembered, when Barry burst into the jewelry store.

Barry was still naked, otherwise, besides a note taped to his chest. Barry frowned and yanked it off, turning it toward himself to read.

This isn’t me rejecting you!! Please believe that, because it’s the truth.

The ‘isn’t’ was underlined three times. Barry swallowed hard and his heart pounded as he continued reading.

I want more with you, Barry. A lot more.

If you still want me, the next time we meet, I promise you that I’ll never leave you like this again.

But right now, it’d be far too easy to go home with you if I stayed until you woke up. There are things I need to take care of first. Things I need to sort out, for myself. Please don’t try to find me again. I’ll come to you, soon.

The necklace is for you. An early Christmas present. It looks good on you. But if you don’t want it, donate it or something. Don’t try and return it to that store. The mob owns that store.

Take care of yourself, Barry. Try to stay away from frozen lakes, at least until I’m around to rescue you again.

~Len

Barry smiled, laughed, and then let himself cry a little.

He was pissed, of course he was. It was a shitty thing to do, the way Len had left.

But Barry was also filled with hope. A lot of hope. He’d hold onto that, for as long as he could. Hopefully Len wouldn’t make him wait too long.

Barry looked up at himself in the mirror again. He tilted his head and watched how the choker shined in the light. He certainly wasn’t returning it to the mob. He didn’t want to donate it, either.

But it wasn’t something he’d ever wear, he thought. Well, at least not outside, he amended. He’d wear it for Len, in the bedroom, if Len wanted. Wear it and nothing else, for Len.

Barry took a deep breath and steeled his resolve. He wanted to wait for Len. So he would. He wanted to believe in Len. So he would.

Chapter Text

It was late Christmas night and Barry was walking home alone. He was going at normal human speed, trying to delay the inevitable loneliness of his little empty apartment. The air was crisp and chill, though there was no snow. He was tired, but he wasn’t looking forward to going to sleep alone in his cold bed. He wanted to sleep beside another warm body, and he knew exactly whose warm form he wanted it to be.

He hadn’t heard from Len since he left Barry that note. It’d barely been two weeks since then, though. Barry needed to be more patient. But he admitted to himself that he’d been hoping Len would show up in time to spend Christmas together.

The party at the West house had been nice, as usual. He loved his family and friends. He loved the holidays. But he couldn’t help feeling lonely, even among them all. He was the only single one there, this year. Everyone had tried to make sure he didn’t feel left out, but there was no way to avoid it.

At least there had been no need for the Flash this year. No metahuman threats. Even the regular criminals seemed to be behaving well for the holidays. Barry was grateful everyone was safe and happy. Even if he admitted secretly to himself that he would have appreciated the distraction.

Barry reached his building, unable to put it off any longer. He went inside and walked upstairs to his apartment. Inside, everything looked as he’d left it. The little white tree on his coffee table twinkled with blue lights. A plastic snowman stood nearby, eternally grinning happily. One lone present sat near them, wrapped in blue and silver paper with a snowflake pattern. Barry bit down hard on his lips, wondering if he’d ever get to see that present opened by its intended recipient.

Barry shook himself, trying to force his bad mood away. Moping didn’t help anything. He’d go change into sleep clothes, then come back out here and put the TV on, watch some Christmas special until he fell asleep on the couch. He’d avoid his lonely bed that way.

Barry made his way to his bedroom, flipped on the lights, and froze. He pinched himself, unable to believe his eyes. Leonard was in his bed! Len was asleep, breathing peacefully, in Barry’s bed! Barry wanted to slink into that bed and snuggle against Len, not waking up the thief yet, but never letting him go, either.

Barry crept forward, planning to try and do just that. As he got closer, Len remained asleep, but something under the covers shifted. Barry frowned in confusion. Then a small form wiggled its way out of the blankets, saw Barry, and started barking at him.

A puppy. A deep brown, furry, floppy eared puppy. Len and a puppy were in Barry’s bed. Barry just stood there blinking, his brain unable to process this development.

Len woke up with a groan, squinting into the light, and gently pulled the puppy back to him by the blue collar on its neck. The puppy’s ID tag on the collar was in the shape of a snowflake, Barry realized. It was an adorable puppy. Barry loved dogs. He’d never had one, but he’d always thought he would, someday. But why was it in his bed, with Len?

Barry continued to just stare in disbelief. Len just looked back at Barry for a few moments, then sat up, holding the puppy in his lap.

“Barry, this is Cocoa. Cocoa, meet Barry.” Len introduced them.

“Did you steal a puppy?!” Barry blurted out.

“No! I adopted him, properly. I know some things are important to do legally. His papers are at our house.”

Len hugged the puppy to his chest like Barry was going to try and take him from Len. Barry felt like a jerk. He hadn’t meant to say that. He was just in shock. He knew Len would never steal a puppy from under some poor person’s Christmas tree.

“Sorry, I just…I’m just surprised to see you! And with a puppy!”

“If you don’t want us here, we’ll leave.” Len huffed.

“No, Len! No! Of course I want you here!” Barry hurried to respond. “I don’t think pets are allowed in this apartment. But I’m sure we can get away with it for awhile. Wait…did you say you have a house?!”

“I did. I do. Its a few blocks from here. Legally bought and everything.” Len answered. “I’d give you the address and say you could flash us there, since there’s more room for Cocoa there. But there’s no heat. It was supposed to be fixed days ago. But there was some problem with the gas line, and I wasn’t about to demand people work over Christmas to fix it.”

Barry just stood there blinking, trying to keep up.

“Also, I promised I’d come see you. So I’m here.” Len narrowed his eyes at Barry. “Don’t act too happy to see me, or anything.”

Barry could do nothing but laugh, then realized he was crying too. He was happy! Incredibly happy! It just all seemed so surreal!

He wiped his eyes and got himself together. Len was still eying him warily. Barry went to sit on the bed with him, bumping their shoulders together.

He held out his hand for the puppy to sniff. The dog did so, then licked Barry’s hand. Barry grinned. He knew it wouldn’t take much for him to fall in love with this dog. Just like it hadn’t taken much for him to fall for Len. Len just deserved it, as did this puppy.

“Cocoa, huh?” Barry confirmed, scratching the puppy behind the ears. “He’s a chocolate lab, right? It fits him. He fits you.”

Len relaxed a fraction at that, letting go of the dog’s collar. Cocoa flopped onto his back in Barry’s lap, presenting his belly for rubbing. Barry grinned and obeyed, watching the puppy’s leg twitch in response. Barry had heard it was relaxing to pet dogs, good for stress relief. He believed it.

After a few moments, trying to get his thoughts together, Barry looked back up at Len.

“I’m sorry I’m such a mess.” Barry apologized. “I just…I just came back from Christmas at Joe’s. It was nice. But…lonely. I mean, there were a ton of people there, and I love them all! But I still felt alone, even surrounded by them.

“So I’m a little far into my own head. A little cranky. But I am happy to see you! I was wishing…waiting for you to be here. I just didn’t expect it to actually happen yet.”

“Maybe I should have crashed it then.” Len frowned. “I knew about the party. I thought about it. I got as far as standing across the street watching you. But I didn’t want to ruin it for you.”

Barry gaped at him, then laughed again.

“That would have been fun! For me, anyway! I can’t say it would have been good for Joe’s blood pressure!”

“I would have, if I’d known you were lonely. I almost did. But…I…I’m not ready for that, Barry.” Len winced. “I mean, I could have played up Captain Cold coming to taunt the Flash for awhile, sure. That could have been fun.

“But the truth? How I actually…how I actually feel…what I actually want…I’m not ready to talk about that yet. Not in front of all those people. Especially not when…when I don’t know if it’s what you want.

“I thought I knew. I thought I knew you well enough to say you wouldn’t have done what you did, if you didn’t want more. You wouldn’t have stayed with me for so long. You wouldn’t have slept with me. If you didn’t want more. But…seeing you there, with all those people you fit with. I don’t fit there. I…”

Barry shook his head as Len trailed off. Barry’s heart was so warm with affection for this man it felt like it might burst.

“Not yet. You don’t fit there yet.” Barry clarified. “But you could, if you want to. It might take time for them to accept you, but they would.

“I want you there, Len. You never have to doubt that again. I want you in my life. I want you with me, wherever I am. You do know me. You did read me right.”

Len smiled then. A genuine smile, not a smirk. Barry loved the sight of it. But he loved kissing it off Len’s face more. So he did.

Kissing Len was just as great as he remembered, even more so now that he knew it was going to be something he got to do a lot. Their hands started to wander a bit too, until Barry was reminded of the squirming puppy still in the bed.

“You didn’t happen to bring his crate for him to sleep in, did you?” Barry asked.

“I don’t believe in crate training dogs.” Len scowled. “It’s just an excuse to lock them up in little cages as soon as they’re inconvenient.”

Barry winced. He was pretty sure crate training was approved for dogs by most pet care professionals. But considering Len’s past and time in prison, Barry could understand why he might see them as cruel cages.

“In the house I bought, I’m giving Cocoa the study. It’s a small room, but it’s a whole room. It’ll be puppy proofed and he’ll have room to walk around. Not a little crate with barely enough space to turn around. And of course the back yard is fenced in so he can go outside and run when it’s nice out.”

Barry nodded. That sounded nice. He knew that wasn’t practical for a lot of people, though. But then again, Barry had never had a dog, what did he know? It was Len’s puppy. He could spoil Cocoa all he wanted. Never mind Barry was suddenly jealous of both Len and Cocoa. Len, for having a house and a puppy. Cocoa, for having Len’s attention.

“Ok, so just cuddling for us until your heat is fixed then? I can deal with that.” Barry pouted a little.

“Impatient to be cold cocked again already, Barry?” Len teased.

Barry groaned, but that was his own fault. Len was likely to never let that pun go. Not that Barry really minded.

“Len, I was ready to happily take your cock again the next morning after the last time! But some jerk left me alone in bed with a stolen collar around my neck and a note taped to my chest!”

Len had the decency to look guilty. But truthfully Barry had already forgiven him for that. He’d come back. Like he’d promised. And he seemed like he was going to stay. That was the important thing.

----------------------------------------------

Len was beginning to think that maybe he should have waited to adopt a dog until after he’d settled into the house and made his intentions clear to Barry. But when he’d been looking at houses and mentioned wanting one with a good yard for a dog, the realtor had shown interest. He’d admitted he didn’t have one yet. Then she’d shown him photos and video of a litter her friend’s dog had had that were just getting ready for adoption.

And Len had fallen in love with one at first sight. In the videos, this puppy kept stealing the other puppies’ toys and treats, in increasingly clever ways. He got scolded, but still looked proud of himself. He was clearly meant for someone like Len, that could understand him.

So Len had ended up with a puppy, named him Cocoa, and didn’t regret it. If the heat at the house wasn’t fixed soon, Len could move them to one of his old safe houses with more room for Cocoa than Barry’s apartment.

He could have done that tonight. He could have waited longer to see Barry. But he hadn’t wanted to.

Now he was here and the speedster was pouting at him about waiting for sex. Len couldn’t find it in himself to regret any of it, really. Though he did feel guilty for putting Barry through it all. Len knew he wasn’t going about it in the best way. But Len would do his best to make it worth it for Barry, in the end.

“Oh, I almost forgot!” Barry spoke up suddenly, and then sped out of the room.

Cocoa jumped up and barked, startled at the super speed movement.

“Shhh, baby, it’s alright. Your other daddy does that sometimes. You’ll get used to it.” Len whispered to the puppy, petting his soft fur soothingly.

“Did you just call me Cocoa’s other daddy?”

Len winced. Barry hadn’t been supposed to hear that. Len hadn’t expected him back that soon. Len bit his tongue, not knowing what to say. This, Len might regret. This might be moving too fast, even for the scarlet speedster. At least he hadn’t admitted he’d been thinking of the house as half Barry’s, too.

“Len, if you want me to co-parent that puppy with you, all you have to do is say so.”

Len looked up at Barry, seeing nothing but fondness in his eyes. Len let himself relax again.

“I do. I do want that.” Len admitted. “I’m doing this out of order, I know. But in my defense, I’ve never tried to settle down before. Never wanted to. But now, after the…after everything. I found myself wanting to.

“I tried to ignore it. I tried to go back to what I was good at. The heists, the cons. And I had some fun. But not like I used to. I knew it would never be the same, though I kept denying it to myself.

“Then you showed up. You showed me clearly what I really wanted. Settling down, but not completely. Having a home, having someone to come home to. But having someone that could challenge me, too. Someone that could appreciate the down time, and the tense times. Someone that knew when to push my buttons, and knew when to let me be. Someone that could help me find that balance, together.

“I still needed some time to accept it. Some time to take care of some loose ends. 

“Then I went and got the house, and Cocoa, and….you.”

Len looked up at Barry, connecting eyes with the speedster. Barry was tearing up again, then he was speeding toward Len and hugging him. Len hugged back, as Cocoa starting barking again.

“Ok, Cocoa, ok! I do have neighbors! They’re pretty nice, but even they have their limits! Your other daddy is right, we’re going to have to get you used to my speed. Though maybe, to avoid confusion, I can be Papa and Len can be Daddy.”

Len’s heart sped up, amazed at how well Barry was taking all of this. He didn’t seem to mind at all that Len had got a puppy and considered Cocoa theirs without mentioning it to him first.

He didn’t ask Len about those loose ends.

He didn’t ask Len about the mob war in Empire City that Len had orchestrated to get revenge on the men that had tried to drown Barry. He didn’t ask about how Len had made sure a veritable army of cops was there to stop it before too much blood was shed, and found plenty of evidence to put a sizable dent in the mob activity in that city for a very long time.

He didn’t ask Len about how he could afford a house.

He didn’t ask Len about the Oculus.

Barry just let Len talk about what Len was comfortable with.

Len wasn’t presenting it as well as he might have wanted to. But he was being honest and as open as he could be. Barry seemed to appreciate that, as Len had thought he would. Someday, maybe Len would be comfortable telling Barry more, about a lot of things. But for now, this seemed to be working. Len was relieved.

“I…uh…got you a present.” Barry mentioned sheepishly. “That was why I ran out to the living room, to get it. It…it doesn’t seem like much, now. It’s certainly not worth even a tenth of the necklace you gave me. But I saw it and I thought of you, so…”

Barry reached down to the floor where he’d apparently just set the gift. Len blinked in surprise, taking the silver and blue wrapped box from Barry. He just held it for a moment.

“You kept the necklace?” Len asked.

“Yep.” Barry blushed. “I’ll wear it for you, too. The same way you put it on me, with nothing else. Once our puppy isn’t cock blocking us, anyway.”

Len smiled, thrilled at both the prospect of seeing Barry naked with the gold collar around his neck again, and at Barry calling Cocoa theirs.

Len opened the gift then, his deft fingers making quick work of the shiny paper. Inside was a large gift box with a variety of gourmet hot cocoa mixes, and a bag of snowflake shaped mini-marshmallows.

Len smiled wide and genuine. He pulled Barry toward him and started kissing him again.

Eventually they fell back into the bed together, snuggling with their puppy, and falling asleep holding each other. Warm and comfortable together.

When he woke up, Len didn’t move from the bed. He watched Cocoa and Barry sleep for awhile. He saw when Barry’s green eyes opened wide and looked at him in happiness. He kissed Barry again, until Cocoa demanded attention too.

When they got up, Len and Barry got up together. They took their puppy outside for a little walk, together. They came back and made breakfast, together.

Hopefully many, many more togethers for the two of them would come. This was a good start, Len thought, as he returned the grin Barry gave him over their chocolate chip pancakes. A very good start, indeed.