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aftermath

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“Cisco, can you turn that down?”

It was a mild afternoon in Central City, and S.T.A.R Labs, as per usual, was practically deserted. Doctor Wells was sequestered away in some office on the other side of the building, doing whatever it was that scientific geniuses did for fun - probably something incomprehensibly brilliant - and therefore wasn’t around to complain about the copious amount of dreadful pop music that was filling the main part of the laboratory.

Caitlin, however, did not have such a luxury. She and Cisco were on opposite sides of the room, but this was not a great enough distance to protect her from the music he was cheerfully blasting throughout the room. For a good ten minutes since it had been switched on, she had accepted the music with remarkably good grace, but enough was enough. It was giving her a headache.

“What?” Cisco called, not looking up from his computer screen.

Caitlin gritted her teeth. Point proven. The music was way too loud.

“I said, can you turn that music down? It’s giving me a headache.”

Cisco pouted. “Aww, c’mon, Caitlin. You know it’s not for me.”

He glanced meaningfully across the room at the prone form of Barry Allen, who was lying in a hospital bed, dead to the world.--

Since Barry had been transferred to S.T.A.R Labs more than six months prior, Caitlin had been carefully monitoring him, poring over every single reading they took from him. Every slight change in heart rate, body temperature, biochemistry and everything else that one could possibly measure was being monitored. From the second they’d wheeled him into S.T.A.R Labs, Barry had been kept under constant watch, if not by Caitlin then by Cisco or Doctor Wells - and not once in the seven months he’d been here had Barry ever risen higher on the Glasgow Coma Scale than about a 5.

In that time, he’d had dozens of visitors, from famous ex-millionaires - the day Oliver Queen had marched through their doors to visit, Cisco had nearly had a heart attack -  to close family, like his foster father Joe West and almost-sister, Iris. And Barry’s most frequent visitor, of course, was his boyfriend, Leonard Snart. Snart was rude, cold, and almost universally despised by everyone else Barry knew. The only thing more intimidating than Leonard visiting - which he did almost daily - was when he bought friends. Lisa Snart and Mick Rory were as different as chalk and cheese, but one thing they had in common was that they were terrifying.

To Caitlin’s relief, those two didn’t visit very often.

All of these people came to visit Barry; they held his hand, talked to him, read to him, bellowed at him, poked and prodded him, bribed him, threatened him, coaxed and wheedled, offered a million one suggestions as to how to wake him up - which Caitlin, being an actual medical professional, found in equal parts amusing and exasperating - and after seven months of all that occurring under Caitlin’s watchful eye, Barry had never so much as twitched in response.

Barry Allen was about as deeply in a coma as it was possible to be. Henceforth, Caitlin was somewhat sceptical about exactly what benefit he was gaining from Cisco blasting Lady Gaga at him from across the room.

“Could you at least play something different?” she asked pleadingly. “I’m sick of hearing Poker Face.

“He likes Lady Gaga!” Cisco said defensively, holding his hands up. “Leonard specifically told me that Barry loves Lady Gaga.”

“That doesn’t mean he wants to listen to her constantly, Cisco. I like listening to ABBA; that doesn’t mean I want somebody blasting them at me 24/7.”

“You listen to ABBA?” Cisco asked, mildly appalled.

Rolling her eyes, Caitlin got to her feet. Clearly arguing was doing no good whatsoever. Marching over to the speakers, she very forcibly turned the volume right down, twisting the volume knob as if it had personally offended her. All of a sudden, Lady Gaga was whispering at them at a far more acceptable volume. With a sigh of relief, Caitlin stepped away.

“Hey!” Cisco said, hurrying over. “Barry was listening to that.”

“The whole city was listening to that. Cisco !”

He had turned the volume up again. Turning to her, he folded his arms and gave her a sanctimonious look.

“Think about what it must be like for Barry, just lying there all day with nothing to do. You really wanna deprive him of the pleasure of great music?”

“I want to deprive him of a perforated eardrum!” Caitlin said, and turned the volume back down.

Cisco reached for the volume knob; she grabbed his arm. They tussled violently, the switch getting yanked up and down so that the music wavered up and down like a badly tuned radio. Caitlin succeeded in turning it down again with a cry of triumph, but as she did so, Cisco gave the volume knob a wrench, turning it to maximum and breaking it off in one sharp yank.

They both stared, horrified, at the little bit of plastic in Cisco’s hand. Meanwhile, the bass was pumping obnoxiously out of the speakers, so loudly that the whole room buzzed. If Caitlin had a headache before, now it was definitely on the brink of becoming a full-blown migraine. In a panic, Cisco started stabbing buttons on the speakers, waving the volume knob in the air like it might leap out of his hand and reattach itself. The music continued playing.

Caitlin grabbed her head in both hands. Doctor Wells would be down here in a minute; even in his office on the other side of the building he couldn’t fail to hear that. In fact, the police would probably be here soon to arrest them for noise pollution.

“Turn it off!” she yelled.

“What?” Cisco yelled back.

“CISCO RAMON, I AM GOING TO KILL YOU IF YOU DON’T TURN THAT RACKET O - ”

A yell of shock from the other side of the room made them both whirl around. Barry was sat up in bed, his eyes wide, looking frantically around him. Clinging onto the bed-frame, he stared at them in complete bewilderment.

“Oh my God,” Caitlin said.

Barry’s lips moved, but they couldn’t hear a word he was saying.

“What?” Caitlin shouted.

“ARE HIS VOCAL CORDS DAMAGED?” Cisco bellowed.

Barry was looking desperately around the room, his mouth hanging open. Frantically, he turned to them and made some kind of gesture with his arms.

“I CAN’T HEAR YOU!” Cisco yelled. “LET ME TURN THIS OFF.”

Diving behind the speakers, he grabbed the plug and yanked it out of its socket.

Blissful silence descended on the room. It was so wonderfully quiet that Caitlin could hear Barry’s ragged breathing, and all the machines going haywire as they measured the sudden influx of activity in his body.

Drawing closer, Cisco said, “Barry?”

“Yeah?” Barry said.

His voice was a little raspy from disuse, but otherwise fine.

“What was that you were saying?”

“I said can you turn that off? I can’t stand Lady Gaga.”

A huge grin spread across Cisco’s face. “He lives! Oh, man!”

He launched himself at Barry, enveloping him in an enormous hug. Caitlin rushed forwards, already whipping out a little flashlight and shining it in Barry’s eyes. He blinked at her, reeling away from the light.

“Pupils equally reactive to light,” she said to no one in particular. “Look at me, Barry, look at me, I’m trying to examine you - ”

He ducked away from her, squinting, one arm thrown up to protect his face. “Your bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired,” he mumbled. “Where am I?”

“You’re at S.T.A.R Labs, you’re fine,” Cisco said. “We’ve been taking care of you.”

“Taking care of me? What happened, am I ill?”

Caitlin had already whipped out an otoscope and was peering interestedly into his ear, checking for obstructions. A little earwax, but nothing unusual. A thought suddenly occurred to her and she dived across the room, searching for a container.

“What’s the last thing you remember?” Cisco asked, still beaming from ear to ear.

Poor Barry was hanging onto the sides of the bed like he half expected it to buck him off. “I was… I was in my lab at the CCPD, I went to pick something up, I - there were these liquids, and they were floating - ”

Currently uninterested in mysterious floating liquids, Caitlin shoved a small plastic pot underneath his nose. “I need you to urinate in this.”

“Not now, Jesus, give the guy time to breathe!” Cisco scolded, confiscating the pot. “Barry, hey, listen to me. You’ve been in a coma, okay? You were hit by lightning, you’ve been out for kind of a while.”

Barry froze midway through trying to climb out of the bed. “What? H-how long?”

“Give or take nine months,” Caitlin said, pulling out a syringe. “Can I take a blood test?”

“Nine months?” Barry said, horrified. “...I think I’m gonna puke.”

He snatched the pot out of Cisco’s hands and dry heaved several times. Caitlin didn’t have much faith in the pot’s ability to hold copious amounts of vomit; she shoved the syringe at Cisco and snatched a bowl from underneath the bed. She stuck it underneath Barry’s nose just in time for him to vomit into it. There wasn’t much for him to throw up, aside from the liquid they’d been feeding into him via a tube, which had to taste absolutely vile. After a minute or two of retching, Barry weakly put the bowl on the floor and started shivering.

“Cisco, get him a shirt,” Caitlin ordered.

“You get him a shirt; you’re the one who’s freaking him out. Quit taking samples, you’ve had nine months to do that - ”

“Yeah, and I need to take more now that he’s awake, the data’s going to be totally different - ”

“We need to call Doctor Wells,” Cisco said. “He should see this - hey, Barry, are you gonna puke again?”

Barry hung dizzily over the side of the bed. “I...I don’t remember anything,” he said. “I remember the particle accelerator...there was this weird shockwave...and then I woke up and… Lady Gaga…”

“You mean you couldn’t hear anything while you were out?” Cisco demanded. “Nothing at all? You don’t remember a single word? Damn, Leonard’s gonna be pissed. He spent months reading you all those classics to broaden your literary horizons and you weren’t listening to a word of it. Still, I guess it might have worked, you know what they say about making babies listen to Mozart when they’re asleep - ”

Barry had only heard one word in this speech and sat bolt upright. “Leonard?” he said hoarsely. “Len was here?”

“Yeah, you just missed him. He couldn’t have left more than an hour ago. He drops by most days, actually, man, he’s gonna be pissed he wasn’t here when you woke up - ”

“Len hates Lady Gaga,” Barry said faintly. “Where is he?”

“At home probably; he dropped by after work, like he does every day… you want us to call him?”

“No,” Barry said, struggling out of bed. He flinched as his feet hit the cold floor, sending icicles shooting up through the soles of his feet. “No, I wanna - I wanna go see him, can I borrow some clothes?”

Caitlin retrieved a S.T.A.R Labs sweater and some jeans from a closet.

“They’re Cisco’s, so they might be a bit short on you - ”

“Hey!” Cisco said indignantly.

“It’s remarkable,” Caitlin marvelled as Barry started pulling on the clothes, so hasty to be out of there that he forgot to be self-conscious. “Your muscles should be atrophied but they’re in some kind of unexplained state of cellular regeneration. There’s no way you should be able to sit up, let alone walk and get dressed and - wait, where are you going?”

Barry was already halfway towards the door, his feet sliding around in an overlarge pair of pristine white sneakers. “I have to go see Leonard.”

“What? No! Barry, you just came out of a coma - we have to run more tests, Doctor Wells is heading down to see you right now!”

The mention of more tests had had no impact on Barry whatsoever unless it was to speed him up a little, but he froze at the mention of Doctor Wells.

“Doctor Wells… wants to see me ?”

“Of course, he’s going to be so excited you’ve woken up, we’ve been monitoring you constantly for months - ”

Barry hesitated for a split second. Doctor Wells was his hero, and had been for a long time. On the train to Starling City the other night… or, apparently, nine months ago… he’d devoured the man’s autobiography, almost shaking with excitement as he read it. Wells was a genius. Finding out Cisco and Caitlin worked with him shortly after befriending them had made Barry so excited that he almost made a complete idiot of himself by begging them to introduce him. He’d told himself that Wells was a busy man, he didn’t have time for forensic scientist fanboys who would just blather and fawn if they ever got to meet him. But now, Doctor Wells wanted to meet him. Barry Allen. And if he started blathering like an idiot, he could blame it on the coma. It was like a dream come true…

And then he remembered hanging on to Len’s hand on the night of the particle accelerator switch-on and it all came back to him in a rush.

“I can’t. I have to go see Leonard, I have to see him - tell Doctor Wells I’m sorry.”

“Barry!” Caitlin called, but he was already out through the door.

 

~*~

 

Leonard sat at the kitchen table, picking morosely at the dinner he didn’t want to eat.

He’d known even as he was making it that he wouldn’t want it, but he needed something to distract himself, so he did it anyway. By the time he was at the table with the plate in front of him, he thought he’d rather eat his own fingers than a plate of spaghetti bolognese, but it was a little late for that now. Visiting Barry tended to make him lose his appetite. One look at the kid lying comatose in a hospital bed was enough to set his guts churning.

Leaving him there only made it worse.

Still, he had to eat or he wouldn’t be able to work, and no work meant no money, which meant he’d get kicked out of the apartment and god knows what would happen to Barry. S.T.A.R Labs were charging him a fortune for the privilege of having Barry lie there in their facility day after day and do precisely nothing. Not quite as much as the hospital would have charged him, but it still felt like robbery. Sighing, Len forced a few more forkfuls of spaghetti into his mouth.

He’d been picking at the meal for around ten minutes when he heard something. It sounded suspiciously like someone hanging around the front door, so he put his head down and ignored it. At first.

Then he heard the far more distinct sound of someone putting a key into the lock and his head jerked.

Instantly, his brain was running at a hundred miles an hour. Len didn’t do visitors, and he certainly didn’t do unannounced visitors. Aside from himself and Barry, the only person who had a key to the apartment was Iris - Barry had given her one way back when he first moved in. (Len didn’t bother giving anybody a key; none of his friends or associates needed a key to get in.)

Iris, however, rarely came round, and she always called first. Not Iris, then.

Whoever it was seemed to be having some trouble with the lock. It was stiff; you had to have the knack to let yourself in first time, there was an awful lot of jiggling and twisting and re-inserting involved if you didn’t get it just right. Slowly, Len got to his feet, careful to keep the chair legs from scraping on the kitchen tiles. He reached for a weapon. The only thing to hand was a wooden mop; he grasped the handle, which would do as a makeshift staff. The actual mop-head wouldn’t do much damage, but he supposed having a face full of damp, smelly mop might give pause to even the most determined burglar.

Len crept forwards, holding his staff in both hands, mop facing away from himself. Flexing his grip, he edged out of the kitchen and closer to the front door. Around the sofa. When he was positioned more or less directly in front of the door, he stopped, getting into a ready stance. Whoever came through that door was going to get a whup in the face with that mop.

The door opened. Len raised his mop - and then Barry stuck his head around the door with a sheepish grin.

Len stopped dead, mop still in the air. He stared, his heart suddenly beating ten times faster.

Barry edged around the front door and closed it behind him, before taking a few tentative steps into the room. His cheeks were pink, like he’d been running, his hair in disarray. Wearing a S.T.A.R Labs sweater and loose jeans, he looked fucking incredible.

“Are you planning to hit me with that, or did I disturb you during a really intense cleaning session?” Barry asked. “I’m not sure you’re supposed to mop the carpet.”

Len dropped the mop. He rushed forwards, and Barry stumbled to meet him. The kid toppled right into Len’s arms, and he was so real and solid and there; he smelt like disinfectant and dry shampoo and his grip was tight enough to let Len know that he too had been missed, that Barry had been as desperate to hold Len as Len was to hold Barry.

Fiercely, Len kissed him. Barry clung to him and kissed back, not seeming to mind when Len raked desperate fingers through his hair, seized handfuls of his sweater and yanked him closer. He was so desperate for skin on skin contact that he pulled the sweater up and put his bare hands all over Barry’s back; Barry flinched because his hands were freezing but he didn’t pull away, just redirected his kisses to Len’s neck instead.

“I missed you,” he murmured. “I missed you so much, I love you, I love you - ”

Len crushed Barry against him, still determined to touch every part of him as he ran his hands all over Barry’s back and then over his stomach and up his chest, all the places he hadn’t been able to touch for the past nine months because of decency and because people were watching and because it was kind of inappropriate to grope someone who was in a coma. Their places, his places. He bit Barry’s neck, hard, and when Barry shuddered he felt a rush of satisfaction, hoped it would bruise. He’d tried pinching Barry when he was in the coma, hoping to wake him or at least make him twitch, and had no reaction; such a visceral response made him giddy.

“I came as soon as I could, I woke up and I came straight here, I love you - ”

Barry’s babbling was music to his ears; his voice was so much more wonderful than Len had remembered, like velvet, and all of a sudden kissing was a little lower on his list of priorities because he needed to hear Barry speak - amongst other things. He bit Barry’s neck again, trying to make him moan, because God knows that was a sound he’d gone too long without - and then Barry started gently pulling back.

“Are you mad at me? I’m sorry I took so long, I came as soon as I could. Please talk to me.”

“Screw that,” Len growled. “All I’ve done for the past nine months is talk. I’m sick of the sound of my own voice; the only person I want to hear talk is you.”

“Okay,” Barry said breathlessly, holding him tighter. “What do you want me to say?”

“Anything. Fucking anything, I don’t care. Fuel prices. Tax inflation. Forensic jargon. I don’t really give a shit, just don’t stop talking.”

“Okay, then how about this,” said Barry, and he caught Len’s face in his hands and leaned back to look him in the eye. “I’m never leaving you again. I missed you more than anything, and I’m going to make sure I never do that to you again.”

“That’s more like it,” Len told him, and kissed him again just because he could.

Barry moaned quietly and shifted his weight, and Len was suddenly aware of the fact that Barry was hard and apparently trying very hard not to grind against him. Breathlessly, he drew back.

“Sorry,” Barry said. “It’s been a while, y’know. And with you kissing me like that… just give me a minute to, y’know, calm down. I know it’s not the best time for… y’know.”

“Barry Allen,” Len said, “I have been deprived of ‘y’know’ for the past nine months. All I have thought about, aside from how much I want to kill you for being struck by lightning - ” he tugged Barry’s hair, making him moan again “ - is how much I want to, ‘y’know.’ So we should probably start right now.”

“Oh,” Barry said weakly. “Fair enough.”

Grabbing Barry’s face in both hands, Len kissed him. It wasn’t a gentle kiss; all the months of loneliness and anger and pain were poured into it, but Barry just kissed him right back and pulled him even closer. Len’s hands moved to his waist, then slid underneath his shirt, untucking it. Putting one finger to his mouth, Len sucked on it and then slowly let his hand wander back down and pressed just the tip of his finger against Barry’s hole.

Barry drew in a shocked breath. Len paused, still applying pressure firm enough for Barry to feel but not enough to actually slip his finger inside.

“You want it?” he asked softly.

Closing his eyes, Barry nodded.

Len bit down on his neck, and not gently either. “What did I say about missing the sound of your voice?”

“Oh, God,” Barry said hoarsely. “Please.”

Their bodies were pressed so closely together that Len could feel how hard Barry was against him. For a minute he gave in to the urge to just grind against him; he rolled his hips, and Barry gasped and responded, pressing back just as eagerly.

But Len didn’t want to just stand here and rut against him like a horny teenager, so he pressed just the tip of his finger in.

The noise Barry made was fucking obscene; he tilted his head back and his mouth fell open, and Len had forgotten just how hot he sounded. He pushed his finger in deeper, watching the pleasure unfurl across Barry’s face - and then Barry clenched around him and suddenly Len couldn’t wait any longer. He pulled his finger out.

Before Barry’s whine of disappointment had even completely left his mouth Len was dragging him into their bedroom and throwing him down onto the bed. He practically ripped the S.T.A.R Labs sweater over Barry’s head, casting it onto the floor - and then he stopped dead.

Abs ?” he said incredulously.

It wasn’t as if Barry had ever been in bad shape, but he’d always just been sort of skinny. Now, he had a very clearly defined six-pack which definitely hadn’t been there before. Bewildered, Len stared at him.

Barry looked just as confused as he did. “I guess whatever S.T.A.R Labs did to keep my muscles from atrophying must have really worked. Huh…” He ran a hand over his stomach.

Well, they could worry about that later. Len was more inclined to touch Barry than ogle him. He pushed Barry, not hard, but enough to make him take a step back. Then another. Barry’s knees hit the bedframe and his legs folded; he fell back onto the mattress and Len followed, crawling on top of him. Lowering his head, he kissed Barry’s stomach. Then again, slowly getting lower down until his lips were hovering at the top of his jeans. Slowly, Len unfastened the button, pulled the denim back a little to press another kiss to the exposed skin. Barry trembled.

Len pulled back, then. He couldn’t help smirking.

“You asshole,” Barry said fervently, and then he astonished them both by flipping Len over onto his back and straddling him. He hadn’t gone on top often before, and usually it had been a predetermined thing. But all of a sudden there he was, sitting astride Len like he did it every day, his hands anchoring Len’s wrists to the bed.

“Well this is new,” Len managed.

“Yeah, I’m trying for a new angle,” Barry said breathlessly. “You like it?”

“I’m...not opposed to it,” Len said. It was strange, sure, but he could probably get used to it. He pulled one of his hands free and started tugging at the waistband of Barry’s jeans, but Barry made a disapproving noise and caught at his wrist.

“Sweater.”

Rolling his eyes, Len sat up a little and pulled his sweater over his head. It hit the floor with a soft thump that neither of them paid attention to; Barry’s eyes were already wandering. He wasn’t exactly keeping his hands to himself, either. They roamed down from Len’s neck, between his nipples, tracing down his belly and then back up again.

“God, I missed you.”

“You were asleep,” Len reminded him.

“I still missed you.” Barry ground his hips down and they both gasped. “Don’t keep me waiting.”

Len didn't need to be asked twice. Immediately, he started fighting with Barry’s pants.

He’d forgotten how clumsy Barry was; taking his pants off without getting up proved to be an impossibility, and so Barry rolled over and started tugging at them himself, swearing viciously as they got tangled around his ankles. Len made short work of his own pants and underwear and then Barry was on top of him again, breathless and beautiful.

“This is still where you keep the lube, right?” Barry asked, leaning over to the top drawer.

“Sure is,” Len said, and he plucked the bottle out of Barry’s hand to coat his fingers, which he then pressed back to Barry’s hole.

As his fingers slipped in - two this time, he knew Barry could take it but he went slowly just in case; it had been a while, after all - Barry cried out and rocked back against him, forcing his fingers in deeper.

“You’re still such a slut,” Len told him.

“And you’re still - ah - a fucking tease,” Barry said. “Come on, give me more. Three fingers, come on.”

“You sure?”

Barry made a frustrated noise and in response, pushed one of his own slender fingers in next to Len’s, stretching himself out. Len might have told him off for that if he wasn’t in total awe; instead, he put his free hand on Barry’s hip and squeezed. It wasn’t the easiest angle for Barry, his wrist was twisted kind of awkwardly, but it didn’t seem to be bothering him. He rocked his hips to compensate and Len surged forwards to kiss him, suddenly overcome by just how much he’d missed him. It felt so good having Barry pressed against him, so needy and desperate that he couldn’t wait. Usually they had more restraint than this, there was a lot more foreplay but neither of them were in the mood to wait around. Len pulled his fingers out, ignoring Barry’s whine of protest, and tugged on his wrist until Barry reluctantly took his finger out, too.

“Just sit tight for a minute,” Len told him as he wrapped his hand around his cock and started to stroke himself. Over the past nine months he’d become way too accustomed to the feel of his own hand, but the lube on his fingers made the slide easier, made it feel so much better. And Barry’s gaze on him, hot and fierce - well, that helped, too.

It didn’t take long for Barry’s impatience to get the better of him and for him to put a hand on his own cock, which looked almost painfully hard. Len had to remind himself that at least he’d been able to touch himself while Barry had been in the coma, whereas for Barry it had been nine months since he’d last had any kind of release. It was kind of impressive that he hadn’t come already.

Even in spite of this, Len didn’t want to rush things too much. As badly as he wanted Barry, he kind of wanted to savour the moment. Nine months of loneliness and misery had culminated in this reunion and he didn’t want it to be over in a few sweaty minutes. Kissing Barry’s neck, he started at the sensitive spot just below his ear, and then his mouth crept down Barry’s throat, making him shiver. 

“Slower, Barry,” Len whispered.

“But - ”

“I’ve been deprived of both your body and your company for nine months. I’d kind of like to take a little more time with this.”

Barry moaned quietly, but he didn’t argue. Pleased, Len moved to the other side of his neck, his mouth dancing down the pale column of Barry’s throat, feeling the pulse beating there. He stopped stroking himself, noticed that Barry’s fingers had loosened around his own cock; he nudged his hand out of the way and started to touch Barry himself, reassured by the weight of him in his hand. Barry was flushed, colour spreading from his cheeks right down to his neck. So fucking beautiful.

“Not really,” Barry said, and Len realised he’d spoken aloud. “Not as beautiful as you.”

“That lightning damage your eyes, Scarlet?” Len asked as he ran his hands down Barry’s sides.

“Didn’t damage a thing. I got the all clear. I’m - fuck - raring to go,” Barry said, stumbling over his words a little as Len gave his cock a tighter squeeze.

“I bet you are,” Len growled. His hands drifted over Barry’s new stomach muscles again and he frowned. “You’re too skinny.”

Barry looked a little hurt. “I thought you liked that I was skinny.”

“I do, it’s natural for you, but you’ve been fed by a tube for nine months. What’s necessary to keep you alive still isn’t necessarily enough to keep you in shape. I’m gonna have to feed you up.”

“Oh, tell me more.”

“Five meals a day,” Len told him, and he nudged Barry up higher so that he was kneeling up. He put a hand around the base of his cock, guided it to press against Barry’s hole. “Three courses. Lots of dessert. I’ll make anything you want.”

“Ah...sounds good,” Barry said distractedly, pressing down.

That wasn’t quite what Len had in mind yet; he pulled away slightly, and started to rub the head of his cock against Barry’s hole. It took a moment for Barry to catch on, confused by the way Len kept pulling away, but then he got it and started moving his hips, rubbing back against him and chasing the friction. Barry’s mouth fell open and he looked as though he might moan again, but then he pressed his lips tightly together.

Len traced one of Barry’s nipples with his fingertip. “You holding out on me, Barry? I seem to recall asking you to speak up a little more.”

“Shh,” Barry said breathlessly. “I’m - ah - I’m drawing up a menu.”

In spite of himself, Len laughed. Then, he thrust upwards, pushing into Barry in one smooth movement.

He didn’t go too fast, as much as he wanted to. There was a little too much resistance, Barry’s body pushing back even as Barry bore down, trying to pull him inside faster. As he went in deeper, Len held Barry’s sides, keeping him from grinding down too fast.

The noise Barry made when Len finally bottomed out was beautiful to behold - a moan that was so filled with pleasure and relief that it made Len’s cock throb even harder. And the look on his face - pure ecstasy. Len kissed him, couldn’t help doing it. At that moment it was a necessity on par with breathing.

“Fuck, you’re tight,” he panted when they pulled apart.

“It’s been nine months!”

“Don’t remind me,” Len growled. “Worst nine months of my life. Never letting you out of my sight again. I leave you to your own devices for one evening and you get hit by fucking lightning. You’re an accident waiting to happen.”

“Do you know the statistical improbability of someone being hit by lightning twice?” Barry asked, still adjusting to the stretch.

“I’d imagine it’s about as high as the statistical improbability of someone being struck by lightning at all,” Len said, “and yet you managed it. Like I said - never letting you out of my sight again.”

“I can get behind that.” Barry shifted slightly. “Can you - please - will you fuck me now?”

“Your wish is my command,” said Len, and he rolled them both over so that he was back on top, before giving a few deep, hard thrusts to show he meant business.

Barry came with a moan, taking Len completely by surprise as he felt Barry shuddering against him. It didn’t last long before he slumped bonelessly to the mattress, panting. Len blinked.

Once he’d caught his breath, Barry said sheepishly, “Oops.”

"That good, huh?'

"Aw come on, I haven't gotten laid in nine months!"

"Neither have I," said Len, brushing a lock of sweaty hair off of Barry’s forehead.

Now it was Barry's turn to be taken by surprise. "You haven't? At all?"

"No. What kind of heartless bastard goes round having sex when the love of his life is in a coma?"

“Nine months though, Len. How long would you have waited? What if I never woke up?”

“Then I’d still be waiting,” Len said simply. 

Barry looked at him then with so much love in his gaze that it might have frightened Len if he hadn't experienced that same intensity every time he'd looked at Barry in that hospital bed. The kid was looking at him like he'd hung the moon and all the stars just for him and set them all ablaze.

Then Len felt his cock twitch and he said wryly, "I hate to kill the mood, but I still haven't..."

Understanding dawned. "Right, right," Barry said. "Sorry."

He flipped them both back over so that Len was once again on the bottom. This had the unfortunate side-effect of detaching their bodies and Len was just about to say something sarcastic about whether they were having sex or doing amateur gymnastics when Barry sank back down in one fluid movement and he suddenly lost all interest in talking.

Settling on his knees, Barry put a hand on the bed to steady himself and then started rocking his hips, riding Len like his life depended on it. Breathlessly, Len put his hands on Barry's waist and tried to match his thrusts where he could, but for the most part he just let Barry take care of him, his forehead furrowed in concentration.

Len, at least, hadn't let his stamina slide while Barry was in that coma. Barry was hard again before too long - oh, to be young, Len thought amusedly - so Len wrapped his fingers around Barry's cock and stroked him as he continued to thrust, Barry's choked-off moans bringing him closer and closer to the edge.

Barry came for the second time with a cry that was at least half frustration as well as pleasure, but Len didn't wait for him to start beating himself up about it. Grabbing Barry's waist, it took him just a few more thrusts and then he came too, panting against Barry’s neck. 

They lay in dreamy silence for a while after that; Barry rolled off Len and onto his back, and he rested his head on Len’s chest. With one arm tightly wrapped around him, Len stroked Barry’s arm with his thumb, just enjoying the sensation of having Barry back in his arms. His pulse soared; Len could feel it beating against his skin where Barry was resting against him, fluttering like the wings of a butterfly. The sound of his breathing, unassisted by a machine and still uneven from the exertion, was a symphony. Barry seemed content to just lie there, eyes closed, enjoying being back in his arms - although to him, scarcely any time had passed since he was last in them.

Eventually, Barry stretched sleepily, his joints popping. “I guess we’d better get up soon. I still haven’t told Joe and Iris that I’m awake yet.”

Len stirred in surprise. “You didn’t call them?”

“I didn’t really want to do it over the phone. ‘Hey guys, it’s me, I’ve been in a coma for nine months but I’m fine now!’ It seems kind of cold. I asked Cisco and Caitlin not to call them; I want to see them for myself.”

“I kind of thought you’d have gone to them first,” Len admitted.

He felt Barry smile against his skin. “I thought about it, but I wanted to see you. And I kind of figured we wouldn’t be getting any alone time for a while once they find out I’m awake.”

Len snorted. “You didn’t tell your family that you came out of a coma because you wanted to get laid first?”

“I’ve been unconscious for nine months, I’m sure a few more hours can’t hurt. Besides,” he said with a smirk, “I didn’t catch you complaining.”

“Would I ever?” Len asked, with only a small amount of sarcasm.

“Honestly, at this point, I’d be concerned if you didn’t. It’s gotta be like, eighty percent of your personality.”

Sighing, Barry got up. He stretched, arms reaching way above his head, and Len lay back to admire him with a smirk. All of that belonged to him. His gaze roamed from the top of Barry’s head, down his shoulders, the muscles of his back, drinking in his long supple limbs and the sweet curve of his ass, all the way down his legs to his heels...and then back up to his ass again, because that was one part of him that Len had definitely missed looking at.

“Quit looking at my ass.”

“I’ve gone nine months without looking at your ass, Barry, you gotta cut me a little slack.”

Looking coyly over his shoulder, Barry said, “I’m sure the novelty will wear off soon; maybe I’d better start covering it up before you get bored of looking at it again.”

He made as if to leave the room, but before he’d gone more than two steps, Len leaned over the edge of the bed and snagged his wrist. He reeled Barry back in, while the younger man tried to hide his laughter; Len yanked him back down onto the bed and started smothering him in kisses - something which later, he would deny ever doing - until Barry was rolling about laughing helplessly, and having no further intentions of getting out of bed any time soon.

For good measure, then, Len started kissing him properly. He began at the corners of Barry’s mouth, travelling from right to left with the lightest of kisses, like a butterfly dancing across Barry’s lips. Then he moved to his jaw, kissing all the way down to Barry’s collarbone, his teeth scraping against the spot where the bone jutted out against the skin, and then licking lightly over it, to soothe the pain. Barry shivered, and Len switched sides to kiss down to his right nipple, swirl his tongue around it and watch it grow hard. The left nipple got the same treatment, and Len’s mouth carried on downwards, down the middle of Barry’s newly defined abs, brushing across his belly, worshipping each hip-bone. His teeth scraped the left one and Barry cried out, reaching for Len’s shoulders; Len allowed himself a smirk before he ran his tongue from one hip-bone to another, and then breathed lightly on the sensitive skin a few inches before Barry’s cock, which was rock hard again. Barry moaned and his fingernails lightly scraped Len’s shoulders, sending rivulets of pleasure shooting down his spine.

“Round two?” Len asked.

“Oh, God, yes,” said Barry, and pushed his head down.

 

~*~

 

They walked hand in hand into Jitters, and Barry thought there wasn’t a person in the world who was happier than he was at that moment. Tucked into Len’s side, he couldn’t keep the grin off his face. Len had never exactly been allergic to PDA but he’d always been more reserved in public. Today, though, he kept Barry close, like he was afraid he might wander away and get hit by lightning again if Len get him go. Barry wasn’t complaining. He was kind of enjoying being made a fuss of, and although he knew he’d got the easy end of the deal - nine months without Len had passed in the blink of an eye for him, whereas Len had endured the whole thing alone - he still hated the thought that he’d left Len alone for so long. He had no intention of letting Len out of his sight, either.

Iris was leaning over a table, methodically wiping it with a cloth. Sunlight streamed in through the windows, catching her hair; she looked beautiful, her forehead furrowed slightly in concentration. Wordlessly, Barry moved towards her and Len came with him like a planet circling in his orbit. The wisdom of this was questionable - Leonard and Iris had never seen eye to eye - but he figured that even Iris could set aside her dislike for his boyfriend at the sight of her best friend having finally resurfaced from a coma.

She didn’t look up as they drew close, still apparently absorbed in wiping the table. If Barry knew Iris, her mind was elsewhere. Probably thinking of something clever, or running over ideas for articles in her head. But of course, she’d have graduated by now, he realised. Yet she was still working at Jitters. He wondered why.

For a moment, he just stood drinking her in, relishing the warm feeling of seeing her again. God, he’d missed her. Nine months without his best friend, even if he didn’t remember them, was nine months too long. All of a sudden Barry felt incredibly guilty for going straight into Leonard’s arms instead of coming to her first, but he didn’t think she’d mind. He was here now, after all.

“Iris,” he said.

Absently, she looked up. It took her a minute as she looked at the two of them - Barry, beaming, Len holding his hand like it would kill him to let go. Then, it clicked. Her eyes went round as dinner plates.

“Barry!”

She launched herself at him and crushed him in a hug that was only a few shades away from an assault. Laughing breathlessly, Barry patted her on the back with his free hand. The hug was made a little clumsy by Len’s refusal to let go of his hand, but he worked with it.

Iris buried her face in his neck, and he breathed in the familiar, comforting smell of her. She smelled like home, like family. The ache he’d felt of missing her had already evaporated; he was whole again now, with the two most important people in his world both at his side.

Sparkling with excitement, Iris leapt back to look at him. “When did you wake up?”

“Couple hours ago,” Barry said, unable to keep from grinning. “Miss me?”

She punched his arm. “Barry! Never. Do. That. To me. Again !”

She punctuated each word with a new punch; by the time she was done, Barry’s shoulder was tingling and the rest of his arm was going numb, but he didn’t care. Iris could probably have ripped his arm off and it wouldn’t kill his mood. He half expected Len to object to the manhandling, but he just squeezed Barry’s hand as if in agreement with Iris.

“God, look at you! You look exactly the same.” She shook her head in wonder. “Are you okay? I mean, is there any damage?”

Regretfully, Barry looked down at his arm. “I mean, I think I might have some bruises now, but other than that…”

Iris laughed and hugged him again, her hair tickling his neck. “I can’t believe you’re here,” she said against his neck.

Barry would have been more than content to keep hugging her - he owed her nine months worth of hugs, after all - but he felt Len shifting restlessly and gently maneuvered out of her arms. He shot a wry smile in Len’s direction, and Len smirked back at him, clearly not at all ashamed of himself.

“We’re gonna have to cut back on the hugging, Iris; Len’s getting a little jealous.”

“Ah, I can take him,” Iris said, and to Barry’s great astonishment, she actually smiled at Leonard. “He was the first to know you were back; he can’t begrudge me a few hugs. Right, Leonard?”

“Guess so,” Len said.

She opened her mouth to say something else, but then caught herself. “God, I’d better get back to work. I’m sorry, Barry, I’d clock off early, but it’s been crazy round here the past few weeks and I really need the cash.” She turned to face Len. “We need a catch up, all three of us. Can you guys make it for dinner tonight? Seven-thirty? My Dad’s making meatballs.”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Len said, with a quite frankly astonishing lack of sarcasm.

“Better not.” Iris threw herself at Barry for one last hug. “God, I missed you, Barry.” Stepping back, she gave him a stern look. “Seven-thirty.” Then she was hurrying back to the counter, a huge smile on her face.

Barry stared at Len in complete and utter bewilderment. Raising an eyebrow, Len steered him out of Jitters and back onto the street, and when it became clear that Barry was too stunned to do anything sensible, he started marching them back down the road in the direction of the CCPD.

“Wait, wait, back up,” Barry said, stopping him in the middle of the sidewalk. “What was that?”

Smartly pulling him to the side and out of people’s way, Len said, “I believe it was a dinner invitation.”

“You and Iris? Talking? Without yelling at each other? You hate each other!”

“It’s been nine months, Barry. Things change.”

“Not that much!”

Len shrugged. “Standing over your bedside was a good bonding experience. Took her a few weeks to figure out that I actually cared and that I wasn’t going anywhere, and a few more weeks of arguing over your bedside, but eventually we agreed that on the off-chance you could actually hear us, you wouldn’t want to listen to us arguing. We made more of an effort to be civil after that.”

“That didn’t sound like civil,” Barry said. “That sounded like...friendly.”

“We get along. We won’t be making each other friendship bracelets any time soon, but…”

“Wow,” said Barry. “You and Iris...friends.” A horrifying thought suddenly struck him. “You aren’t friends with Joe, are you?”

Len snorted. “I’d say he’s slightly less inclined to shoot me on sight, but other than that I can’t say much has improved there. Seeing each other by your hospital bed every day wasn’t a pleasant experience for either of us.”

“Oh, thank God. I don’t think I could handle you and Joe being friends. That would be just too weird.”

When they reached the CCPD building, Len let go of Barry's hand. Confused, Barry turned around.

"Aren't you coming with me?"

"I've seen enough of Joe over the last few months to last me a lifetime. I'll wait here." He folded his arms. "But if I see a single cloud gather above that building, I swear to God I will be up there so fast - "

"Relax," Barry said, grinning. "I think I can manage without you for five minutes."

"Doubtful," Len said, and leaned across to kiss him. "Don't be too long."

"I won't," Barry promised.

He met at least three people he knew before he'd even made it into the building, and two more in the elevator. There were several new faces, which was surprising but also a slight cause for worry - they couldn't have replaced him, could they? Of course they'd have needed someone to fill in, but after nine months did he still have a job to go to? Anxiety twisted in his stomach until he stepped out of the elevator into a sea of friendly faces, all of whom appeared pleased to see him.

After enduring several minutes of jokes, enquiries as to his well-being and cheerful punches to the arm, Barry said, "Hey, has anyone seen Joe?"

"Yeah, he's in a meeting with Singh," said Eddie. "Hey Barry, uh. I'm really glad you're back."

"Thanks, Eddie," Barry said. Was it his imagination, or did Eddie look kind of shifty? Shrugging it off, he headed for Singh's office.

Ordinarily Barry would never have dared to interrupt one of Singh's meetings, but he figured these were extenuating circumstances. He could see Singh, and the back of Joe's head, through the blinds. Fighting off a grin, Barry knocked twice and opened the door.

"Sorry to interrupt, Captain."

Joe twisted around in his chair, mouth open. "Barry!"

He leaped at Barry and hugged him, hard. Beaming, Barry patted him on the back.

"It's good to see you, Joe."

"When did you wake up?"

"Couple hours ago. I had to stick around at S.T.A.R Labs for a few tests," Barry lied. He sensed it wouldn't go down too well if he admitted he'd gone round to see Leonard before Joe and Iris.

"And? Everything okay?"

"Everything is great," Barry beamed. "I'm in perfect health. Never been better." All of a sudden he realised that he was in Singh's office. Nervously, he stepped back. "Uh. Captain."

"Allen," Singh said, and he stepped forward and hugged him. 

Astonished, Barry stood and stared over Singh’s shoulder at Joe, who looked just as perplexed as he did. He hadn't decided whether he ought to hug back or whether that was taking it too far when Singh stepped back and looked him up and down, one hand still resting on his shoulder. Privately, Barry thought it was a very good idea Len hadn't come with him. He might have interpreted something else in that look.

"It's good to have you back," Singh said. "I expect you'll want your job back."

"Yes please," Barry said. "If I can still have it."

Singh nodded. "You can have two weeks of compassionate leave to acclimatise. I expect you have a lot of catching up to do. After that I expect to see you at your desk bright and early the following Monday morning. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes sir," Barry said. "Thank you."

"Don't mention it. You can go, both of you."

Barry and Joe headed for the door.

"Oh, and Allen," Singh called.

Barry looked back.

"Try not to get hit by lightning again. It plays hell with our health and safety record."

"No sir," Barry promised. "I won't."



~*~



"My God Barry, you gave us all a scare," said Joe when they were safely out of the office. "How'd S.T.A.R Labs manage to wake you up?"

Barry opted for the simplest answer: "Lady Gaga."

Joe's eyebrows flew up. "You know what, I'm not even gonna ask. As long as you're okay. You and I have a hell of a lot of catching up to do."

"Oh, yeah," Barry agreed. "Iris invited us round for dinner tonight, I hope that's okay."

"Of course, Barr, you're always welcome." Then his eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Wait. Who's 'us'?"

Bracing himself for a fight, Barry said, "Me... and Leonard."

Joe scowled. "I was afraid you'd say that." He sighed. "For your sake, I'll try not to shoot him."

"Thanks, Joe."

"But remember," Joe warned, "I said try ."

“I appreciate the warning,” said Barry. “I’ll warn him to be on his best behaviour.”

“I’ll make sure to tie down all the silverware.”

Barry rolled his eyes. “Whatever you say. Look, I’d better be off, he’s waiting for me. But I’ll see you tonight - I promise.”

“You’d better. Tell Leonard he’d better watch you like a hawk. If you get so much as a splinter on his watch, I’m gonna kill him.”

“Trust me, Len’s never letting me out of his sight again,” said Barry. “If there’s one thing I can guarantee, it’s that I’m safer now than I’ve ever been.”

~*~


That evening, curled up with Len on Joe's couch, Barry decided that life couldn't possibly get any sweeter.

Dinner had gone astonishingly well. Aside from snarking at each other at every opportunity, Joe and Len had miraculously managed to get along. Despite what Len said, he and Iris actually appeared to be friends. And they all orbited around Barry, filling him in on the nine months he'd missed. Everyone wanted to hug him, Len especially. The older man seemed to view every second spent not touching Barry as a moment wasted. Joe didn't like that much, but he had the good grace not to complain about it.

Now, full and happy, Barry lay with his head in Len's lap, the older man running his fingers through Barry's hair while Barry wriggled like a cat. Iris was on her computer, tapping away at some article. Joe alternated between writing a report and staring into space. It was, Barry reflected, a perfect evening.

"Hey," Len murmured, leaning down a little. "How much do you wanna bet that Joe's plotting to shoot me within the next half hour?"

"Len," Barry scolded. "Behave."

"Can't and won't. Anyway, you love me."

"I do," Barry agreed, and pushed himself up on one elbow to kiss him.

He'd intended it to be fairly chaste, but Len wasn't in that kind of mood and Barry's body was touch-starved enough to rebel against him. The kiss deepened immediately, Barry's fingers finding Len's face.

A loud crack made them both jump. Barry looked wildly around for the source of the noise and then his gaze fell upon Joe, who was looking distinctly unimpressed. His hands were together; Barry realised he had clapped to startle them.

"You know the rules, Barr. No making out on my couch."

"Aww, c'mon, Joe."

"Don't you 'c'mon, Joe' me, those have been the rules since both you and Iris brought home your first boyfriends, and I'm sticking to 'em." 

A number of potential arguments sprung to mind; the first being that Barry (and judging by the sudden innocent expression on her face, Iris too) had never stuck to that rule in the first place. The second argument was that he was a grown man, and the third that since he no longer lived here, the rules kind of didn't apply to him any more.

He settled for, "I was in a coma!"

"Don't think I'm gonna let you get away with whatever you want because of that," Joe warned. "Coma or no coma, no making out on my couch."

Len was smirking, either at Barry being treated like a naughty child (likely) or because he had every intention of breaking that rule right there and then (even more likely.) In order to avoid further bloodshed, Barry said, "In that case I think we'll get going. It's been kind of a long day, I think we're gonna get an early night."
Alarmed, Joe said, "Whoa, wait, you don't have to be so hasty, Barr. None of us have seen you in nine months; you've spent enough time sleeping. Don't you wanna stick around a little longer?"

"Well, I guess..."

"In fact, you might as well stay the night," Joe said. We can fix up your old room... and the, uh...spare, for Leonard."

Barry raised his eyebrows, suddenly realising what all this was about. "Joe, uh... are you trying to protect my virtue?"

"Don't be ridiculous!" Joe huffed, refusing to make eye contact.

Len barked a laugh.

Even Barry had to hide a smile as he said, "Joe, you know Leonard and I have already had sex, right? Like...more than once."

"And that's just today," Len said, smirking.

"Len," hissed Barry.

Len shrugged and mimed zipping up his lips, but he was still visibly smirking.

"I do not wanna know," Joe said firmly. "What you do under your own roof is your business. Under mine, on the other hand..."

"Which is why we should probably be leaving," Len interrupted, smiling widely. "Barry gets a little tetchy if you let him get too wound up. He's a beast."

Iris choked. Barry blushed furiously; Joe looked longingly towards the hallway, where his gun was hanging up.

“Right,” Barry said hastily. “Well on that note…”

He started hurrying around the living room, gathering up stuff. Joe had filled a tupperware dish with meatballs for them to take home, which Barry retrieved; he’d also bought a bottle of wine to celebrate Barry waking up. After some deliberation, Barry decided to take that too. Meanwhile, Len stood smirking at Joe with his hands in his pockets, clearly begging Joe to shoot him. He looked damn good doing it, but somehow Barry didn’t think Joe would appreciate the aesthetics of Len’s most smug expression. Slipping his arm through Leonard’s, he leaned into him lovingly, and very deliberately trod on his foot at the same time.

The smile didn’t leave Len’s face; if anything, it only widened. Stifling a sigh, Barry said, “I’ll call you guys tomorrow, okay? I love you.”

“We love you too, Barry,” Iris said, and she hurried over to give him a good long hug. 

It was when she turned and kissed him on the cheek that Barry was really taken by surprise; he reached up to touch the place her lips had touched. By his side, Leonard glared.

“Relax, Leonard,” Iris said, rolling her eyes at him. “I’m done, okay?”

“I’m a little protective at the moment,” Len said coolly. “You’ll have to forgive me.”

I don’t forgive you,” Joe said, and he elbowed Len out of the way to give Barry a hug, too. “Listen, Barr, Iris and I were thinking about having a little get-together soon, something to celebrate you waking up. Nothing huge, but a bit of a party, just so everyone can catch up. We’ll sort out the venue and all that nonsense, all you have to do is compile a guest list. You think you can do that?”

“I’d love to,” Barry said.

“Alright, I’m done playing nice, let’s move out,” Len said loudly.

“I will shoot you, Snart.”

“So you keep saying, but I’ve yet to see any evidence of you doing so. You gonna put your money where your mouth is?”

“Okay, we’re going,” Barry said, and he steered Len out through the front door.

As they walked home, their breathing misted the air. Len kept a tight grip on Barry’s arm, while Barry shivered slightly against the cold, wishing he’d brought a better jacket. There was something magical about the marmalade glow of the streetlights, the muffled quiet of the suburbs so late at night. He felt like he’d stepped into another world.

“I wish you wouldn’t provoke him,” he said as they walked.

Len waved a hand dismissively. “It’s all fun and games, Barry; if he was going to shoot me he’d have done it by now. Besides, I thought you didn’t want us to be friends.”

“I don’t, but I also don’t want him begging me to dump you every night for the next six months.”

Turning a cool gaze on him, Len said, “I’d hope you have no intention of breaking up with me anyway, so what difference does it make?”

“Well, what if I started provoking Mick?”

“Please, if you pissed off Mick I’d be scraping you off the sidewalk.” Suddenly, Len stopped, pulling Barry against him. “It’s beautiful tonight.”

Thoughtfully, Barry looked up at the sky. It was a gorgeous night; the moon hung over them, all the stars dancing above with not a cloud in sight. A light breeze ruffled his hair, while the moonlight and the street lamps paved the streets in silver and gold.

“The perfect night to have you back,” Len murmured into his ear.

Smiling softly, Barry leaned into him and thought that it was possibly the most beautiful night in all of human history.