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Within Certain Bounds

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"Come on, Barry, you need some quality relaxing time!"

"Sure, but I'm not sure that's the right place. I've never been to those kinds of clubs before. What if I make a fool out of myself?"

"Don't worry, you'll be there with me and Caitlin. We'll take care of you. And you'll even have a mask on, and a name tag with an alias, so nobody will have to know it's you."

"All of this because you need a third person for your group costume?"

"Well, yeah. And also because it's fun, and you're in desperate need of some fun."

***

Two weeks later, Barry had an official invitation to Allure, as Cisco's guest for the night. He didn't even know the location of the club, or what he'd be wearing, but Cisco had promised it was a good outfit, not too revealing.

"The theme of the night," Cisco explained when Barry showed up in his apartment, "is 'medical'. Regular fetish wear is still allowed, but going along with the theme is a bonus. Caitlin had this wonderful antique straitjacket she wanted to wear, but that means she'll be incapacitated for the night. That is, of course, just what she's looking for. She wants to let go, to be taken care of. So, we'll be there as her naughty orderlies."

"With you so far," Barry said, wondering if Cisco was going to bring out the "naughty nurse" Halloween outfits.

"Gimme a moment to change," Cisco said, disappearing into his bedroom. It was nearly five minutes until he showed up again, wearing a tight, black PVC dress, fishnet stay ups and high heels, and a white coat. He twirled, showing off, and Barry gave him an appreciative nod. It was a rather feminine outfit, but not quite drag, and he liked the overall balance.

"Okay, I used your measurements from the suit, and made you these," he said, giving Barry a pair of latex pants. "I think you should go topless for best effect. With a white coat, of course."

Barry tried them on, and they fit just as well as his suit, and were, if possible, even more revealing. He still remembered being the skinny geek he was in college, but ever since the lightning, he had actually felt comfortable in his body. Enough to go bare chested to a club, which would have been unthinkable before.

Cisco loved it, and Caitlin too, when she arrived just a few minutes later. She changed into her white, lacy nightgown and rabbit slippers. Her hair was tousled and tangled, as if she'd just gotten out of bed, and she had mascara lines streaking her face. Barry had never seen the self-assured doctor in a state like this, and he felt honored to share this vulnerability.

"Okay," Caitlin said. "Lube, condoms and gloves." She handed them packages of each. "Barry, don't be surprised if people are interested in getting a digital exam. You have really nice fingers."

Barry could only sputter in reply, and Cisco laughed. She also handed them a Wartenberg pinwheel each.

"Nice," Cisco said, and rolled it along his arms. Barry stuffed the pockets of his white coat with the supplies, and they all covered up with long winter coats on top of the costumes, before calling a cab to take them there.

***

Team Flash put on their masks before walking in. The masks were Venetian masquerade style: red silk and golden lace for Barry, with a large fake ruby in the middle of his forehead; dark blue velvet with black spider webs covering his cheeks for Cisco; and silver silk with pale blue sequins for Caitlin. They signed in at the registration, where Barry, as a guest, got to sign off a single sheet of club rules. Most of them were obvious (no cameras or recording devices, what happens at the club stays at the club, make sure you have consent before doing anything), but he appreciated the rule that called for everyone to keep up the veil of plausible anonymity. They each got a name tag and a bracelet with a round blue charm. Barry hadn't expected the name tag to be a simple, red and white "Hello You Can Call Me" sticker. Caitlin took his, and scribbled "Sparky." She chose "Frosty" for herself, and "Tink" for Cisco. With a smile, she let them fasten the straps and secure her arms in the straitjacket. Barry put the stickers on all of them.

"Okay, then, let's do this!" he said, swallowing his nerves. He took one of Caitlin's arms, and Cisco took the other, leading her into the club. The first floor consisted of two dance floors with strobing lights, and a few open scene rooms in the back, where people were getting into the medical theme. Barry saw two gleeful older women piercing each other's chests with sterile needles, and then slapping them. It looked extremely painful, but the women were having fun, if their laughter and occasional moans were anything to go by. In another room, a man strapped to a dentist's chair was getting sounded, and he seemed to really appreciate it.

"Uh, guys, I don't think this is my thing," he said, overwhelmed and not sure if he was feeling horny or scared or both at the same time.

"Don't worry, they're all just show-offs. Let's go downstairs," Cisco said, taking in his surroundings with much more calm than Barry.

Downstairs, things were calmer. There was a bar, and several sofa sets around low tables. Not everybody was seated; a few people were kneeling by someone seated. One of them wore a leash, as well as cat ears and a tail. To the side, there were more conventional scene rooms, with St Andrew's crosses or padded benches. One of those was occupied by a man flogging a woman. The red marks on her thighs, her moans and the bliss on her face, that was something Barry could appreciate, and he lingered with the watching crowd for a while.

He seemed to have lost Caitlin and Cisco, and searched the bar area for them. They were cuddled up in the corner of a sofa, Cisco serving Caitlin a green, fruity drink. She seemed so relaxed, so different from her usual ice cold and hard demeanor.

Barry looked at her, and cautiously took one of her slippered feet in his hand. When she nodded, he started massaging her calf.

"Ooooh, keep doing that," she said, her eyes closed and her neck stretched back.

"Drinks are included in the entry fee," Cisco said. "Not that it matters to you, but you can only get one alcoholic drink. You say you want your drink, and hand over the bracelet. It's a good way to keep people from doing dangerous things while drunk."

"I feel so awkward here," Barry said, rubbing the back of his neck. "I don't know if I'll be coming back."

"Don't say you're not interested," Caitlin said. "We saw you watching Viper and his sub of the week, for quite some time."

"I mean, I'm interested. I just don't know about this kind of public setting. I was never into the bar scene in college, and this seems just like it, only with more revealing outfits."

"Now, that explains a thing or two about your sad lack of a love life."

Barry glared at Cisco, who only smirked back, and switched to Caitlin's other calf. She had so much tension in her muscles, and he didn't dare to think about how much he might need a massage himself.

"Go on, Barry, have fun! See if you can find someone cute, and then you can see what happens."

"Yeah, have fun! We're going to see if anyone wants to spoil Caitlin, but it can be hard if there are already two of us doing it."

Barry pursed his lips. "I see what you did. You said you wanted a third person for a themed outfit, and now you're pushing me away. You brought me here to find someone, didn't you?"

He did want to meet someone, but he was just not sure this was the right place. When he had been alone, discovering his preferences, it had been easy to think that anything out of the ordinary was kinky and forbidden. Now, after seeing people act out things he hadn't even considered in porn, he was less sure.

"You need to relax, Barry. This is a perfect way to let off some steam, and you don't have to worry about your other secret identity." She did have a point, and Barry left them with a small kiss on each of their foreheads.

***

Barry sat at the bar, twirling a bottle of ginger ale in his hands and scratching the label, when someone sat down on the chair next to him. He turned around to see who it was and what they wanted. It was a man, wearing leather hot pants and artfully woven strips of multicolored bondage tape over his chest. Barry looked him over, fascinated by the patterns and by the muscles underneath, until he realized he was staring. That brought his eyes to the man's face, which was half covered by a bright blue cowl, not unlike his own Flash hood, with elaborate and large peacock feather decorations. All in all, an eye-catching outfit. The man was giving Barry a once-over, too, and they caught each other's gaze on the way up.

Fuck. Those blue eyes, he'd know them anywhere.

"What's a nice young man like you doing in a place like this?" Leonard Snart drawled, smirk firmly in place on his smug face. He had to know. Right? He'd seen Barry's face, looked him straight in the eye, and if the records that Barry had erased were true, he had a nearly eidetic memory. Fuuuuuck.

"Sna---" Barry started, and was silenced by a long finger on his lips.

"Hush, 'Sparky,' I'm 'Cold' here."

"Really?"

"That's what my sticker says." He scoffed at Barry's frown, and explained some more. "Hiding in plain sight. A concept you clearly are familiar with, going by the scarlet mask."

Barry had to concede the point, which he did with a small shrug.

"So tell me, what does the golden boy of Central City look for in a dungeon?"

"Well, _Cold_, I came here to keep my friends company." He looked over his shoulder, and found that Cisco and Caitlin had found someone. A tall woman in a golden princess outfit, gilded crown and all, sat splayed on a sofa with Caitlin's head in her lap and Cisco kissing her feet. "Seems I'm not needed for that anymore."

"The question is, now that you're on your own, are you looking for anything in particular?"

"Why?" Barry asked, not feeling up to divulging his kinky interests to his nemesis. "Are you offering?"


"Don't mind if I do," Snart said, with a smirk and an appreciating glance at Barry's chest. That… That put a lot of their interactions in a new and different light. Barry contemplated how many times Snart could have been _flirting_ with him.

A large hand clamped down on Barry's shoulder, and he startled. Mick Rory stood behind him, in heavy boots, a kilt, and gorgeous shibari bondage over his otherwise bare chest. The ropes and knots enhanced his scars, making him a strange kind of beautiful. He didn't wear a mask, just a pair of large tinted glasses, and his name tag said "Mick," including the quotation marks. Clearly, he didn't care much for anonymity.

"Boss could flirt all day and not get to the point, Red. You in or out?"

"Wait. Both of you?" Barry's mind was suddenly flooded with images of the two Rogues, tying him up and having their wicked way with him. He could feel the blush rise from his chest to his cheeks. It was all too much like some of his fantasies. He longed for someone to take control, to let him be good, to hurt him just right.

"Package deal," Snart said, with a tilt of his head and a wave that encompassed them both. "Interested?"

Barry nodded, feeling overwhelmed and excited.

Snart tucked a finger under Barry's bracelet. "Good. Order a beer for Mick, and a soda water for me, and let's talk."

***

They sat in a secluded corner, Mick relaxed and Snart alert. Barry took a seat opposite them both and put their drinks down.

"We've been in the scene for twenty-five years, 'Sparky.' Just the two of us sometimes, playing with others most of the time," Snart said. "If you're wondering about it, we've probably done it at least once. Ground rules: no sharing fluids other than spit, no come play or blood play, condoms for anal and oral, gloves for fingering but not necessarily for handjobs, dental dams for rimjobs. I don't bottom and I don't sub. With me so far?" Barry nodded, and Snart continued. "As I said, the question is what you're interested in. What have you done?"

Barry rubbed his neck in embarrassment. He really didn't have much experience at all. "Uhm… It's all mostly theoretical. I mean, I haven't done much with actual people… I love being good to someone. I've tried some spanking, but everyone does that, right?"

"You'd be surprised," Mick said, not taking his eyes off his beer, "but no."

"I've been held down, before. Doesn't work very well now, of course. Tied up, but not with real ropes, mostly scarves and belts. Handcuffs, a few times."

Snart looked like the cat that ate the canary. "'Borrowing' from an officer of the law? My, my, that's naughty."

"Oh, god, no!" Barry blushed. He didn't even want to think about what Joe would say if that had been true. "Pink, fuzzy ones. A gag gift."

The Rogues exchanged a look, and clearly tried very hard not to laugh. The situation was absurd, and Barry was the first one to break into giggles. The other two followed soon after.

"Thanks," Mick said. "I needed that." He tipped the bottle back and drank the last few drops. "So, newbie, you want the silk gloves or the rough treatment? We can do both. As long as the both of us fucking you is on the list."

Barry swallowed hard. "Definitely on the list. And I think I want somewhere in between? Does that make sense?"

Mick nodded, and Snart was clearly making plans, if the calculating gaze was anything to go by. "Safeword?" Snart asked.

"Let's go with color coding. Green, yellow, red. Don't call me 'Red,' Mick."

Mick raised an eyebrow, but agreed. "Anything a hard no?"

"Fire and ice," Barry answered, completely serious.

"Fair enough," Snart said, with a laugh.

"Medical stuff. Serious pain. Anything that resembles a real fight. I don't like humiliation. Oh, and no Daddy play. I'm sure I'm missing, like, a whole catalogue of stuff, so can you tell me what you're planning?"

"Gonna tie you up," Snart said, with a heated look.

"He's good at that," Mick added, pulling at his own ropes. By the look on his face, he clearly enjoyed the feeling of rope dragging against his skin.

"Nothing too tight, but you won't be able to move much. Gonna fill that lovely ass with a small plug, and then spank it and whip it. Not too harsh, but you're gonna feel it when you're sitting down tomorrow. I'm thinking about denying your orgasm."

Barry shuddered at the images Snart's low drawl brought forward. "Uhm… That's probably not a good idea. I come _really_ easily. And often." Barry hated himself a little for thinking that the look of absolute glee on Snart's face was adorable. He couldn't wait to find out what he was planning.

Chapter Text

Snart laid a hand on Barry's shoulder. "So, 'Sparky,' wanna get a room here, or follow us home? It's considerably more comfortable and well equipped at our place."

Barry wasn't usually one for one night stands, especially not following people home after meeting in a club. He'd be much more likely to exchange phone numbers and go on a date a few days later. Joe's warnings flashed through his mind. "Don't ever follow a stranger anywhere." "Barry, I don't mind that you like men, too, but you gotta be careful. Most guys only have one thing on their mind, and many of them aren't particular about how they get it." "Meet in public places." "Trust your gut. Or better, think about me, and what you'd think I'd say."

Well, in this case, Joe would probably bring up all the times he had warned him about Snart specifically instead. But that was always in a Flash context, and they had worked together several times over the last few years without any more betrayals. Barry wanted to meet the men behind the goggles, and while he was nervous, he did trust them, to an extent.

From what he gathered when they talked, and from what he knew about them, Joe's warnings didn't apply. That wasn't what he was worried about, no matter how many lessons Joe had tried to teach him and Iris. Was he worried that they'd take advantage of his vulnerability to ice or burn him? No, not really, and besides, he could overpower them easily. When they first met, that might have been a concern, but they had fought both against each other and side by side without serious injuries since Snart learned his identity. Was he worried about his secret identity? Somewhat, but Snart had kept his secret for years now, and Mick hadn't cared much when he found out. They seemed to be genuinely interested in him, as Barry Allen or "Sparky," not just to brag about fucking the Flash.

"I can hear you thinking all the way from here," Mick said, leaning back. "'M not saying you should trust us just like that, but if we wanted you dead, you'd've been dead a long time ago."

Mick's blunt assessment of the issue was reassuring.

"I think we've moved past the 'I'm a criminal and a liar' phase a long time ago," Barry said.

"I do hurt people, though," Snart said, with a twitch of a grin. "Especially when they ask me to."

Barry chuckled. "How about 'Trust but verify?' I leave Cisco a note with the address, and expect him to barge in tomorrow unless I'm back, safe and sound?"

"Acceptable," Snart said, and wrote an address on a napkin.

Barry went over to give it to Cisco or Caitlin, and he got a good long  look at their playing partner. He should have known. It all made perfect sense.

"Hello, Goldie," he said, greeting Lisa with the name she had chosen for herself. "I need to borrow Tink, just for a moment."

"I don't know if I'm willing to give him up."

Barry pursed his lips, and stopped himself from asking if she wanted to get her brother laid or not. That would be creeping into TMI territory. He crossed his arms, and she sat up straight, removing her shoes from Cisco's back.

"Hey, Cisco," he crouched down. "I'm about to do something that's either a brilliant idea or the absolute worst one I've ever had. Keep this. If I don't show up tomorrow morning at ten, I'm probably Cold's prisoner, and I need you to set me free. Got it?"

Cisco looked blissed out, eyes barely focusing, but he nodded. "Cold, back tomorrow, address, can't believe you got that lucky."

"Gee, thanks. I'm clearly not the only one. Go back to playing with her, and take care of yourself and Cait."

Cisco just smiled, and Barry left them with a nod in Lisa's direction. Caitlin hadn't even looked up from her place in Lisa's lap.

***

Barry was shaking with nervous energy. He wanted this, but he also wanted to run. He wanted to run them all to Snart's apartment, and at the same time, he wanted to run away, run home, to the safety of his lonely bachelor pad.

They had taken the masks off when they left, and walked side by side in warm winter coats. Barry didn't know if he was happy or sad that Snart had left the trademark parka at home, and wore a black peacoat instead. Snart and Mick had covered up their bare legs with sweatpants, which was a shame, but it was November, and they were in for a fifteen minute walk.

Nobody was going to notice them, Barry told himself. They were just regular people, walking home after a night out. Nothing kinky about it. Nothing suspicious. No high profile supervillains and superheroes.

"Barry!" Snart snarled. "Calm down. You're bouncing."

His hand on Barry's arm was calming, and Barry gave in to the instinctual need to lean in. Before he knew it, he was pressed to Snart's side, an arm around his waist.

"You always like this, or is it just us?" Mick asked.

"Bit of both? I was literally vibrating when I made out with Linda."

"Tell me you're not misusing the word 'literally' to mean 'figuratively'."

Barry laughed, burying his face in Snart's shoulder. "I know what I said."

He could feel a barely there kiss on the top of his head. "Oh, Scarlet, the list of things I've planned just doubled."

***

Once they had arrived at the cosy little townhouse that Mick and Snart apparently owned together, Mick insisted they'd sit down for a snack. "Sit down" in this case meant that Barry was snuggled up tight in Mick's lap, and Snart sprawled across the sofa next to them like a cat. Snart brought out strawberry juice and cream cheese bagels. The food helped with his jitters, because he hadn't eaten since they left Cisco's apartment, and that meal had only been a few energy bars. Mick's warm and firm arms around him also calmed him down, loosening up the nervous ball in his stomach.

"Color?" Snart asked.

"Green," Barry said, without thinking about it much.

"Really? You're completely and utterly okay with what's going on, not nervous at all?"

When he put it like that… "Chartreuse?"

Snart laughed. "Gold star for honesty. Here's the deal. You're not in a state of mind where you can appreciate the scene we planned. But I'm always expecting the plan to go off the rails at any moment. The backup plan is that we take some baby steps tonight, and if you enjoy it, we can always go back and try out more things when you're feeling up for it. How about it?"

"Sounds good," Barry said, his voice suddenly failing. He should have known that Snart would pick up on his hesitation. The man was nothing if not observant.

Mick nosed along his neck, and Barry stretched it for him. Mick started kissing along his sensitive tendons.

"Mick, we need him to focus, and you're distracting."

"Very," Barry agreed. He reluctantly moved his neck away, while keeping his upper body in the comfy cocoon of Mick's arms.

"The goal is to get you relaxed and safe, and willing to fall into subspace. You can't do that if you're constantly on guard."

That made sense. Barry had been keyed up, like a live wire, for months now, which was the whole reason Cisco and Caitlin had wanted him to find someone to play with. It usually took him a long time before he trusted anyone to get close sexually, which is why he'd been more reluctant. With that in mind, he actually knew the Rogues a lot better than he would have known a prospective one night stand. And they showed him trust in return, by inviting him into their home, where they lived, not a safehouse, where they squatted. That must be the next level of trust for notorious criminals.

But what did he feel? Did he trust them with his gut? To his surprise, the answer was yes. He was nervous, and unless Snart had something really brilliant planned, he probably would still be nervous just from the novelty of the situation. But he was nervous, not afraid.

"Whatcha thinking?" Mick asked, his voice close to Barry's ear.

"I'm thinking that I actually do trust you. Don't make me regret it."

"Are you willing to be a good boy for us?" Snart asked, low and drawling.

"Yeah," Barry smiled. "I can do that, Snart."

"Call him Len," Mick whispered. "Whatever you do, don't call us 'Sir' or 'Master,' we don't like that."

"I can be a good boy, Len." He loved how the name felt, like a gift he'd been given.

Len stood up, and kissed him, full of promise. Mick pressed hot kisses to the nape of Barry's neck and dragged his fingers through his hair.

"Follow me," Len said, and walked up the stairs. "Mick, you know what to do."

Barry wanted to ask, but kept his questions to himself as he followed Len. Len opened the third door, leading into a bedroom with a king size four-poster bed, made of sturdy, dark wood. Barry had more or less expected a home dungeon, with bondage furniture and a stash of toys out in the open, but this was clearly their bedroom. A well worn Charmander plushie rested on a pillow on the left side of the bed, and there was a pair of reading glasses and a dog eared copy of The Stars My Destination on the left bedside table. On the right table, a hinged photo frame showed two photos: Len, Mick and Lisa posing with their guns on one side, and a faded photo of a sandy blonde girl pirouetting on ice on the other side. There was also an e-reader, a plain black notebook, and a pen.

Len watched Barry take it all in, and then he closed the photo frame and laid it down, and put the plushie away.

"Is that enough snooping for you?" There was no real ire in his voice, just a challenge, as he removed the blankets, leaving just clean sheets and pillows.

"I'm sorry," Barry said. Was this roleplay? Was he being good enough? He looked at his feet and could feel his heart beating faster. Len's hands came down on his shoulders, rubbing gently and pulling him in.

"Dial down the sarcasm in the bedroom, check," Len said, as he lifted Barry's chin and came in for a tender kiss. "I want you to get naked, and then I'm going to tie your legs to the bedposts. I won't tie your arms, not today. Mick is warming up some hot oil for a massage."

"Uh, how hot?"

Len snorted. "A perfectly safe 140 degrees. No fire involved. We have an electric heater. Okay?"

"Okay."

"Good. Now, I believe I said I wanted you naked…"

Barry flashed out of his outfit and lay face down on the bed, legs spread. Len's fingers raked through his hair and down his neck, and Barry shuddered in pleasure.

"So good for me. What's your color, Barry?"

He lifted his head. "Green."

This time, Len believed him. He dragged his fingertips along Barry's spine, from his neck all the way down to the small of his back, and stopped.

"Later," he said, and dropped a kiss between Barry's shoulder blades. He got up, and came back to sit down at the foot end of the bed. Barry could feel a smooth rope coil around his ankle. Len wrapped a few loops, secured it and tugged. It felt like he was being held in gentle hands, and he never would have imagined bondage being so calming. Every time he had tried it before, it had been exciting, but this was a completely different feeling. He could hear Len tying the other end of the rope to the bedpost. Then he switched sides and did the same for Barry's other ankle.

"How does it feel?"

Barry tried moving. He had a certain range of movement, but once his knees were halfway bent, the ropes stopped him abruptly. He relaxed, letting his whole body melt into the sheets.

"Feels good," he said.

"You tell me immediately if it starts to hurt or tingle, or if it feels strange. Got it?"

"Got it, Len."

"Good boy." Len patted his ass and gave it a squeeze.

Barry was hard already, trying not to hump the mattress. The firm grip of the rope, the vulnerable position, Len's careful hands and his praising words, it was like it was tailormade to get his libido going. Heavy steps sounded outside the door, and Mick came in.

"All wrapped up like a present," he said with a deep chuckle.

"All yours," Len replied.

Barry could feel his cheeks heat up. "All yours," he mumbled, looking down.

Mick shuffled around behind him, and approached the bed. He took Barry's wrist in his big hands, stroking gently along the pulse point.

"'M not much of a talker, but Len says I gotta. This is the oil I'm using." A splash of moderately hot oil came down on Barry's wrist. He was proud of himself for not flinching. "I'm gonna give you a back massage with this. Color?"

"Green."

Barry felt oil drip on his back, pooling along his spine. Mick straddled his ass, and Barry couldn't help trying to raise his hips to meet him.

"Later, Scarlet," he said, pressing him down gently into the bed. His half-hard cock under the kilt nestled up between Barry's ass cheeks.

"Be a good boy, Barry," Len said, from where he sat tailor style by the headboard. "You get what we give you, when we want to give it to you."

Barry groaned, but relaxed into Mick's grip. If he wanted to watch Len, he would have to stretch his back, and he had a feeling that wouldn't work well with getting a back massage, so he relaxed with his head in his hands. That gave him a full view of Len's crotch, and the contours of his cock through the leather. He suddenly felt awkward and presumptuous. Len's hand came down on his neck, stroking gently.

"Wouldn't sit like this if I didn't want you to watch," he said, moving his wonderful hands up towards Barry's hair.

Barry relaxed, and he felt Mick start the massage by slowly moving his fingertips along the lines of his muscles, spreading the oil as he went.

"Damn, Scarlet, you're tense."

It was a statement, not a question. Barry nodded as much as he could from his position. Mick increased the pressure on the larger muscles, using the meat of his palm to push down. Then he switched back to fingers and thumbs as he digged into the smaller muscles along the spine. Barry groaned.

"That's good, Barry. Let your inner masochist take over."

Len's voice was smooth and slow, and Barry obeyed. He felt every sharp and dull ache as Mick went to town on the knots in his muscles. It hurt, but it felt good. He was floating on the sensations. The heat from the oil, the pain-pleasure from Mick's hands, the secure hold of the ropes, the heavy weight of Mick's body pressing up against his ass, Len's gentle fingers in his hair and his confident voice.

"There we go, that's our boy," Len said. "You're doing so well. I want you this relaxed when I fuck you, swimming in subspace but anchored by us. I want to tie up that gorgeous body, to fuck your face when you're suspended, to whip that perfect ass until you cry."

Mick pressed down deep into Barry's shoulders, pinching the muscle with his palm on one side and the fingers on the other side, and shook. It did hurt, but mostly, it overwhelmed Barry with emotions.

He could feel the tears coming, but he couldn't do anything to stop them. He felt how much he had pulled his shoulders up to his ears, for years now. How the stresses of the job, of being the Flash, of all of his relationships, of the people he failed, it all came crashing down as the stubborn knots were warmed up but not yet relaxed.

Distantly, he heard Len's voice. "Yellow."

Mick stopped instantly, and Len's fingers were gone.

"Barry, what's happening?"

He couldn't reply. All he wanted was their hands on him, holding him, and he tried to show it. It didn't work. He had no words, and not many gestures he could use. Mick tried to withdraw, but Barry used his speed to take hold of his right hand and keep it in place on his shoulder.

"That's a red, Mick," Len said, getting up. Barry heard more than he felt the ropes being loosened, soft swishes over Len's fingers. No rope burn. Mick's weight left his back, and Barry made a whining sound. It felt like an eternity, but it probably was less than a minute until he came back, lying down beside Barry, turning him over, and holding him in his arms. He must have taken his clothes off, because he was naked and soft and warm.

Barry still couldn't stop crying. Len had left, because he wasn't good enough. He couldn't deal with a massage. How could he ever hope to actually play? Not good enough.

Mick kissed his cheeks and stroked his back.

"You're not the only one. Len stores his stress in his muscles, too. Why d'you think I learned this in the first place?"

Len came back. He came back! He held a small juice box in his hands, telling Barry to drink. That was easy to obey. He was absolutely parched.

"Slow down, Scarlet. Not too much."

He hiccuped. Len removed the juice box, and crawled into bed on the other side.

"Sorry," Barry mumbled. "That was… I'm sorry. That was bad."

"That was sub drop," Len said, matter-of-factly. "It happens. It's not your fault. You did well, but it was too much for you to handle."

Len cuddled up, his now naked skin covering Barry's back. Mick's hands were still moving, stroking, no pressure.

"Told 'im you do that muscle thing, too."

"I repress. That's what I do. My body doesn't agree, and it tends to come back to bite me in the ass once I do relax. Should have known you'd do the same thing, Barry. When was the last time you felt mellow?"

Barry cried a little laugh. "I don't. I don't relax. I'm always on the move."

Len's lips moved down his spine, towards his shoulders, and Mick leaned in to kiss him on the mouth.

"That's not a very healthy lifestyle," Len murmured, and this time, Barry's laugh was genuine.

"I know." He tried to stop his mind going at supersonic speeds, and with their gentle care, his thoughts slowed down from speedster to regular human jogger.

Barry felt his hard cock pressing against his ass, and he wanted to give something back, but when he fumbled behind himself with his hand, Len took a firm hold of it.

"No," he said. "I don't want you to do any work tonight. Just relax, and let us take care of you."

Micks hand did something behind Barry's back, and then Len came even closer, his now slick cock between Barry's thighs. He brought the hand back, still warm and oily, and came to grip Barry's cock, moving up and down in a painfully slow stroke.

"Ngh, those damn legs," Len said, thrusting slowly. "Just hold them closed for me."

Mick sped up, and Barry came with a sigh. It was, objectively, a weak and boring orgasm, but he felt like jello afterwards, boneless and shaking. He leaned back, baring his neck for Len, who took the chance to bite and suck. With his mouth on Barry's neck, one hand on his hip, the other around his stomach, and his cock thrusting between his thighs, Len didn't take long to come, either. Mick was ready to clean them both up, his own cock flaccid.

Barry felt an overwhelming sense of shame. "Not good enough, not good enough, no good, no good at all," echoed in his mind. It must have shown, because Mick kissed his forehead.

"I'm an old man. Takes a lot to get me in the mood, and very little to get me out of it. Not your fault, Scarlet. I had a good time."

"But…"

"Hey," Len said. "We know what we can do. Trust him. Trust us."

There they were again, those words. Small, single syllable words, that held all the meaning in the world.

"I trust you," he said, and crawled back into their double embrace, still feeling loose-limbed and calm. It didn't take long until he fell asleep, safe in their arms.

***

The door was kicked open with a bang, and Cisco walked in, newly designed pulse gun in hand.

"Let him go, Cold!" he screamed.

Barry woke up with a start, and flashed away to stop Cisco's finger from pulling the trigger.

"You're…" Cisco's voice dropped to a whisper. "You're naked, Barry."

"Yeah." Barry smiled, and rubbed his neck in embarrassment. Less than a second later, he was wearing the sweatpants Len wore yesterday and one of Mick's threadbare t-shirts, both items of clothing much too big on his lean frame. He also made sure his lovers were covered to the waist.

Cisco dragged Barry from the bedroom. "What the hell, Barry? You told me to come if you weren't back by ten?"

"It's past ten already?!"

"Dude, it's noon."

As if on cue, Barry's stomach started to rumble.

"He's not holding you prisoner with a bomb in your neck, is he?" Cisco asked, clearly concerned.

"He would never!" Barry said, upset on Len's behalf. "He's nothing like his father." Cisco agreed, with a reluctant side-nod. "I had… let's just call it an interesting and turbulent night. I'm hungry, exhausted, and a bit emotional today. Could you just let me see what happens in the light of day? I don't want to leave just yet."

"Are you seriously considering getting involved with Captain Cold and Heatwave?"

"As if that wasn't Lisa Snart I saw you with yesterday."

"Yeah, but that was just sex, and she's hot! It sounds like you want a relationship!"

Barry smiled, knowing full well that two sets of attentive ears were listening in behind the bedroom door.

"Yeah, well, maybe I do. I'll see you tonight, Cisco. We're still on for the one with the whales."

Chapter Text

Mick probably knew what Len had in mind for today, which meant he was already downstairs, frying up a brunch. The bacon smelled delicious. Len took one look in the mirror: his dark blue turtleneck and straight cut, worn jeans made him look comfortable without being too sloppy. Just the notes he wanted to hit. He dragged his hand through his still-wet hair, grabbed his notebook and favorite pen, and walked down the stairs.

As he turned around the corner into the kitchen, he saw Barry wearing Mick's worn out t-shirt, hanging loose on his runner's body and showing off his clavicles, and Len's own pants, sitting precariously on slim hips. "Ours," said the more primitive parts of his brain. Len wanted to claim him, to own him, to keep him. He took a deep breath, and pushed the violently possessive impulse down. There might be time for that later.

Barry was eating muffins and laughing so hard at something Mick had said that crumbs were flying out of his mouth. Mick, in turn, with his back towards him, was working the frying pan and chuckling quietly.

Len had almost forgotten just how endearing Mick could be when his guard was down. They had had a rough few years, arguing more often than they kissed.

And now Len wanted to upset their balance, bring someone else into the fold, not just for playtime? He wasn't sure if their carefully crafted relationship could take that, and he was definitely not prepared to lose Mick. But then again, Barry brought something else to the equation, something Len desperately wanted to explore.

"And anyway," Barry said, "you two haven't been evil in years."

Mick grunted. "Never been evil," he said.

"No, you're right, more like Chaotic Neutral, heavy on the chaos."

Len could see that Mick was confused by the geeky reference, but he shrugged anyway. Mick did like chaos, there was no getting around that.

"I prefer True Neutral," Len said, making his presence known.

Barry looked at him, and smiled, a wide grin that seemed to light up the room. That smile was going to be the death of him, someday. He couldn't stop his own mouth from twitching a smile in response, more open than he preferred. Len walked past them, stroking Barry's back between his shoulder blades, and giving Mick a fond and familiar slap on the ass, as he stole a still-cooking piece of bacon from the pan.

"Morning to you too, sunshine," Mick grumbled. He saw the notebook that Len had put down on the kitchen counter and rolled his eyes fondly. Well, mostly fondly. "Hey, Red, you signed up for this. Remember that."

"What?" The thousand watt smile faded, and a worry line appeared on his otherwise unwrinkled forehead. Len wanted to smooth it out with his thumb, but he refrained from touching.

"Snart getting his 'incident analysis' on. 'Bout yesterday."

Barry suddenly looked pale. "Uh… Couldn't we just… Like… Never talk about that again?"

This time, Len knew his smirk was back. "How do you think I learned how to plan a heist? Anything that doesn't go according to the plan needs to be analysed. In detail."

"You're doing a 'morbidity and mortality conference'?" Barry asked, his eyebrows high and his eyes wide. "My dad always came home exhausted from them."

Doc Allen had been a cardiac surgeon. Barry must have been interested in his father's work, if he could remember those words from his childhood, or just a precocious child with an interest in science.

"Less patient safety, more flight industry or manufacturing." Though in this case, there would be a large emotional element, which was never Len's strong point. "The surface level analysis is that we all fucked up, and should never do that again, but I'm not interested in surface level or blame, and I reject that conclusion. I want to get to the bottom of this."

Mick snickered. Barry blushed.

"No pun intended, for once," Len said. "Eat up. We've got work to do."

Mick snorted, and went back to his pan of bacon. Barry busied himself with cutting fruit, and avoided Len's eyes.

Brunch was delicious. The table was spread with all kinds of fried breakfast food and sandwich fittings, but Len chose, as usual, to restrain himself. He just had some eggs and bacon, a bowl of fruit salad, and a whole wheat muffin with cream cheese, while Mick and Barry gorged themselves on the rest, until there was not a single piece of food left.

"At least someone appreciates my cooking," Mick said, mid-bite. Len tilted his head and pursed his lips, the argument old and well worn.

"Are you kidding?" Barry asked, not even noticing their disagreement. "This is so good, of course I appreciate it!"

They didn't talk about anything serious while they were eating, and Len did his best to make Barry feel comfortable. He and Mick told him about Russia with the Legends, in a way that emphasized the comedy of Ray failing to pick up the scientist, and glossed over the torture and other horrifying stories from the prison camp.

Afterwards, Barry did the dishes, using his powers. That was certainly a convenient use for superspeed, but it felt a little sacrilegious to combine the transcendental, the nearly god-like, with the mundanity of daily chores. Huffing at himself in amusement, he realized he had not felt the same when Barry used those powers to undress before him.

When the kitchen was clean, they moved to the couch. Once again, Mick offered a grounding embrace. Len was not as talented when it came to physical comfort, at least not when it wasn't part of a con, so he just put Barry's bare feet in his lap and gave them a bit of a rub.

"That feels good," Barry said, eyes rolling into the back of his head.

"Do you feel safe?" Len asked. He knew the general direction he wanted to take in his inquiries, and what he needed to know about Barry, but this could still all blow up in their faces, especially if they triggered another breakdown.

"Yeah."

"Calm?"

"Kinda, but also kinda like I could cry at any moment." The feeling wasn't immediately obvious in Barry's face, but his breath was not completely regular.

"Fragile?" Len asked.

"That's it."

"It's common after subdrop. I won't judge you if you need to cry. Fair warning, though: I will ask sensitive questions. You can tell us to stop at any time, but I need to know these answers before I can try to dominate you again."

"Why?" Barry drew his shoulders in tighter. Mick forced them down gently, and Barry relaxed in his hands. Tensing up would make it harder for him to be honest.

"Because I only enjoy inflicting pain in the fun way. Believe it or not. But 'Why?' is a very good question."

Barry inched impossibly closer to Mick.

"I don't do the mushy feelings crap," Mick said, a partial truth at best. "But I ain't letting you go when you're feeling like this. 'Less you wanna."

No, Mick wasn't much for romance and definitely not much for talking about emotions, but he had a knack for reading people, and his solid warmth could calm anyone and make them feel safe. Unless he was angry, but he rarely was, these days. The Legends had done wonders for his temper, or maybe it was their renewed relationship after Len had been brought back to life. Len put the thought aside. There would be time for Mick later.

"'Kay," Barry said, his voice small. "I can do this."

Len brought out the notebook, and flipped to a blank page. He titled it "Subdrop" and underlined the word.

"You dropped last night, and it wasn't from a particularly intense scene. Why?" he asked.

"I was really nervous, and I've been keyed up for a long time, now. That was why Cisco wanted me to join them at the club, actually. He said I needed to relax."

"What makes you stressed, to the point where Cisco suggests unconventional methods of relaxation?"

"Oh," Barry laughed hollowly, tension returning to his shoulders. "Everything? I've had some spectacular failures recently, ever since Reverse Flash came back. Half the city wants me dead or in prison." He clenched and unclenched his hands, and Len pressed his thumbs into the arch of his feet. Firm pressure, not rubbing or stroking.

"I try, I try so hard not to kill anybody, but it happened again last week. Her meta name was Electra, but her real name was Maria Hernandez. She wasn't even evil, she just couldn't control her powers." He took a deep breath, and looked away, clearly feeling guilty. Len hadn't known about the death, and he usually knew just about everything the Flash was up to.

"It comes back to Eobard, every time. He was the one who taught me, he made me who I am, and I can never shake that stain."

Len didn't know the whole story, but he knew that Eobard Thawne, the Reverse Flash, had been this universe's Harrison Wells, both Barry's mentor and the one who killed his mother. Len had put it all together from the Ferris Air fiasco, various articles in the news, and snippets of information from Team Flash and Gideon, tidbits he'd found when he was trying to keep track of Barry. Not stalking. Just knowing your enemy, back in the day when Barry was an enemy, which turned into a habit he was unwilling to drop once they had made a tentative peace.

"Look at me, Barry," he said, and Barry did. "I know you. You're nothing like the Reverse Flash. The only thing you have in common is your speed." He moved his fingers, rubbing the ball of Barry's feet, while Mick laced his fingers through Barry's.

"That guy is a dick," Mick said, disapproval clear in his voice. When the Reverse Flash came back, Mick had mentioned working for him in another timeline, but refused to give Len any details about it. "Call me next time you fight, and I'll fry the bastard."

This time, Barry's laughter was genuine. "Thanks, Mick. If you only knew how tempted I am..." His laugh faded, and he changed the subject abruptly. "I don't know if you know, but our divorce was finalized a month ago."

"Noticed the change in the byline," Len said. He used to read Iris' work as a way to understand more about Barry and his family, as a way of keeping tabs on them both, but that was a long time ago. She was a genuinely good journalist, especially in long form articles, and these days, he read her articles for pleasure.

"It wasn't anybody's fault. We just ended up in a vicious circle after Nora was born. All the small things just piled up, until we were sniping at each other instead of talking. And counseling didn't work, either. Well, it kinda did. We did manage to turn things around and be a bit nicer, but the damage was already done. We didn't love each other like that anymore, so we split up. That helped, believe it or not. We're friends again, and family, but we can't be married."

It sounded both genuine and practised, like he'd said something similar to many people before. Barry didn't meet their eyes, looked off a bit to the side, slumped just a little more in Mick's arms, and it looked like raw grief. Len was reminded of the time he had come to Mick after Chronos, fully expecting to be killed for abandoning him to the Time Masters, and how Mick had looked at him after he chose to let him live. Coming back to their relationship after that had been an uphill battle, one they hadn't finished fighting by the time Len died.

Mick kissed Barry's head. "Didya know I actually filed our divorce papers?"

He was clearly thinking about the other time Len had abandoned him. Len bit down on his spontaneous sarcastic comment as he felt the familiar burn in his chest.

"What? I didn't know you were married!" Barry looked between them, studying them with wide eyes, as if he expected them to reveal more unknown, life-changing details.

"Been married longer than you've known us, Scarlet," Len said. "As soon as it was legal. I just didn't want anyone saddled with my unfortunate last name."

"And Rory means 'Red King.' Didn't exactly go with his frosty style," Mick said with a laugh. "But yeah, we split after a heist went bad. Really bad." Mick nodded in Len's direction. "He left, and I filed for divorce. The heat gun was a nice present to make it up to me."

"Hasn't exactly been roses and honey since then, either. But we came down on the side of staying together." Len paused, and went to give Mick a kiss on the cheek. Mick turned his head around, and caught the kiss on his lips instead. Len gave him a small smile, his eyebrow slightly raised. Mick's grin was wider, and he looked very pleased with himself.

Len sat back on his side of the couch, and went back to his notes. "Nervous" was the first word on the first line, and "Tense" was the second. He drew small bubbles around the second one. He filled them out with small symbols, a lightning bolt for "Flash business" and joined rings for "marriage stuff." Tension made sense. And Barry's muscles were tightly wound, so releasing that physical tension was definitely one reason for experiencing a drop in his emotional state. But it wasn't the whole story. He focused on the other word.

"Why were you nervous?"

Barry rubbed the back of his neck and looked away. Somebody should talk to him about easy tells. Len waited for him to talk. He wanted to give suggestions, but he knew the value of judiciously applied silence. Instead, he rubbed Barry's feet, to let him know he was there.

"Have you seen yourself?" Barry finally asked. "You swoop in, all gorgeous and cool and suave and charming, with twenty-five years of experience to brag about. And then there's me. My 'experience' basically comes down to whatever I can find on the internet, and what I did with some college partners." He looked away again. "No, even that is an exaggeration. I had one college boyfriend, and he was bad for me. And then, two girlfriends, not very serious, after the lightning. And Iris."

"Inexperience," Len wrote below "Nervous."

"Wanna tell us about it?" Mick asked.

"Maybe later? I mean, they didn't abuse me or anything, it was just… not very good. We weren't good for each other. I think I might have picked up some bad habits."

"Why so few partners?" Len asked, curious. Barry after the lightning was stunning, but Barry before the lightning, in the pictures Len had seen, was pretty damn good looking even without the extra muscle definition. His personality lit up a whole room, and he was almost always the center of attention. Len didn't have any comparisons for his personality before, but it was hard to believe that having superpowers could make that much of a difference.

"Because I'm a giant dork?" Barry said, making it sound like a question. Len tilted his head, trying to make sense of just how much his assessment differed from Barry's own. "Nobody was interested when I was just plain ol' Barry the freak."

"Don't sell yourself short, Red," Mick said, his tone gruff, bordering on annoyed.

"Seen the pics, Barry," Len said, his drawl out in full force. "You could have been Twink of the Week any night on Patricia, if you had been interested in that." It was, admittedly, a few years since Len and Mick had gone clubbing in non-kinky places, and Patricia, a club on a decommissioned ship with the same name, attracted mostly younger gay men.

"The club scene was never my thing. I've never been into casual sex, anyway." Both his hands were rubbing his thighs, and he was squirming in Mick's lap. Not as if he was trying to get away, but he clearly wasn't comfortable with Len's questions.

Len finally felt they were getting somewhere. If he'd been a nicer man, he might have stopped, but he had a plan and he wanted to follow through. He wrote down "Ø Casual" below "Inexperience," the circle with a strikethrough his own shorthand for "Not."

"And yet, you seemed to be up for it last night. That was all we offered. Casual, kinky sex, with two people at once." He put the book down and leaned forward, focusing all his attention on Barry. Barry, in turn, seemed lost, his brilliant green eyes unfocused and his lower lip red from biting it.

"I honestly don't know why I went along with it. Cisco and Caitlin were really pushy, and I mean really, really pushy."

He finally looked at Len, his expression open and vulnerable. Len would pay good money to be able to fake that look for a con. He nodded, encouraging Barry to go on, and Barry drew a shaky breath, but Mick interrupted before he could get a word out.

"Aren't you too old to fall for peer pressure?" Mick asked, and Barry laughed. It was a brittle sound, no humor in it.

"I guess I was just desperate for a connection. To somebody. To anybody. And then you show up, all charming and stuff, and make me realize I've been flirting with you for years, Len."

Barry looked up towards the ceiling, and it was hard to tell if he was distracted or deep in thought. His left hand came up to rub his right arm, a gesture that looked like he was comforting himself. Mick rested his head on Barry's shoulder in support.

"I can't say I've had a crush on you," he told Len, with tears in his eyes. "That's not true. But I've been fascinated by you, and I was devastated when you died." His breath was shallow and irregular, and he was looked everywhere but at Len. "And then you came back, and you stayed, and you've shown me there's good in you so many times. And this is really hard for me to do, so can I have a hug?"

Len opened his arms, and Barry must have used his speed, because he was suddenly holding a crying speedster without noticing any movement in between. This was not his strong side, but he could imitate Mick. Len stroked Barry's back slowly.

Mick came up behind Barry, and held them both. He whispered something to Barry, something Len was desperate, but not allowed, to hear. Mick looked at him reproachfully. Well, Mick had a point. Len had been pushing Barry hard, way beyond his comfort zone, and the reaction shouldn't have been surprising. Even so, Len had a hard time dealing with people who cried. It had been like that ever since Lisa was a child. What was he supposed to do?

Or was Mick's reproach because he had died? But he'd been back for over a year now. He couldn't exactly say he was sorry for dying, could he? This was out of his comfort zone. Mick seemed to sense that, and pulled away.

"Anytime you wanna open a beer and not talk about it, I'm in," Mick said. That was so quintessentially Mick, and it made both Barry and Len laugh.

"I might just take you up on that," Barry said, drying his tears with the back of his hand and sitting back up. He took some time to catch his breath, and Len gave him a full minute before pressing on, digging deeper with the why-questions. He even considered leaving the subject, but he was so close to getting real answers. He could deal with another breakdown if he had to.

"Why were we different, Barry?"

"Well, you did manage to pinpoint several of my wildest fantasies, and tell them to me in that voice of yours." He blushed and looked down. "But that's not it. Anyone could have done that, because apparently, my wild fantasies are pretty tame and standard, and I would have hated hearing about them from some random person at the club."

This was it. This was getting close to the core of the matter.

"I'm not in love, but there is a connection, and I want more of it."

More, yes, more was good. Yes, the potential was definitely there. He wanted to mark him, to tie him up, to hold him down, to make him submit. Mick's eyes went wide for a second, before he hid his surprise. Len looked down, forcing himself to be calm and collected.

"In case you hadn't noticed, he's a possessive bastard," Mick said. Dammit. Mick could always read him.

"Yeah, I've noticed," Barry said. "Remember that time he fought Killer Frost over who was my ice themed villain?"

"That wasn't…" Len tried to defend himself, but he was met with twin faces of disbelief: pursed lips, tilted heads, and disapproving brows. He should probably be more worried than he was about Mick and Barry getting synced up to make fun of him. Grumbling slightly, he went back to his notebook. One breath. Two. Calm.

Len wrote "Emotional connection" on the next line, looked over his notes, and thought about what Barry had said. He tapped his pen twice against the notebook.

"This is not a why-question, but I think it can give us a primary cause. Barry, are you on the asexual spectrum? Gray-ace or demisexual?

Barry was quiet for a long time, and when he spoke, it was slow and careful. "I don't know. I've just thought of myself as a hopeless romantic."

"Because that's not a dealbreaker for me. I'm just wondering what you want from me and Mick?"

Barry fiddled with his fingers and studied them intently. Len refused to say anything, even if he had at least four different potential relationship structures planned.

"Could we… Date? Take things slow? I'd love to see where this goes, but I don't even know what I want." He paused, and blushed again. "I'd… uh… I'd really want us to work our way through that list of yours. Just… Maybe not all at once?"

Len looked at Mick with a questioning eyebrow.

"Don't expect mushy crap from me, but I ain't saying no to dinner." He grabbed Barry again, and pulled him effortlessly into his lap, in a blatant contradiction to his words. Barry relaxed, almost melted into Mick's arms.

"Oh, we can woo you, Scarlet," Len said with a smirk, and leaned in for a slow and deep kiss.

Chapter Text

It was a bit crowded, three fairly large men making out on the couch, and Mick was at the bottom of the pile. He didn't mind their weight. It was calming, feeling them press down onto him. He didn't mind tasting Barry's neck, and running his arms on top of Len's shirt. His partner and their new... Well, whatever he was to them… They had their tongues down each other's throats, and it was pretty hot to watch. Mick didn't mind.

But then Barry turned around, trying to kiss Mick instead. It should be nice. He was hot. Mick suddenly couldn't stand the closeness, the hot breath near his face, the invasion of his personal space. He cringed, needing to get away. It was too much, too soon, too loud in his head.

He pushed them both away and got up. There were words he should say, things he should explain, and none of them came when he tried. His mouth refused to obey, and his brain felt like mush. All he could do was grunt, and hope that Len could interpret him. He needed to get away.

"Wait, Mick!" Barry shouted. Or it may not have been a shout, but it felt like one. Mick held out a hand for him to stop, and he did. The words were still ringing in his ears, echoing back and forth. Mick took a deep breath and clenched his fists repeatedly. He stared at the floor, shuffling his foot back and forth on the carpet. He needed to leave, but he didn't want to be mean. At least the shouting stopped.

"He does that, sometimes," Len filled in, his voice nearly a whisper. "Just leave him alone."

Mick avoided their eyes and held on hard to the bannister as he walked downstairs. Twenty one steps. He could do that without stumbling. "Up w'th' good, down w'th' bad," he reminded himself under his breath. The left leg, the one with the bad knee, was the first to step down each stair.

The basement was his place. The one place in their home where everything was to his taste. His "man cave," as Len liked to tease. Whatever. Mick liked it. He liked the pin-up tapestries covering the concrete walls almost as much as he liked his antique fold-out, lockable writing desk.

But no, no typewriter today. Words were easier on paper, but today was not a day for words. Today was a day for listening to his recording of the background noise from the Waverider and shutting up.

Beer would be so good right now. Whiskey even better. He never ended up in a good place if he drank when he felt like this, but it was so tempting. Just dulling his senses a little. Just a little. There was no alcohol in his man cave, for a good reason, and he couldn't convince his knee to walk up the stairs again. He popped an off brand soda can instead, trying to feel the sugar rush. No sugar yet, just the bubbles. He drained the can, and burped loudly. Better out than in.

A single tea candle, safe within a lantern. He allowed himself to light it. The open flame from the lighter was a terrible temptation, but he let it flicker out after just a little too long. The lantern on the table where he could clearly see it, he let himself sink down into the recliner and pulled up the weighted blanket.

Tension bled out of his muscles, out of his brain. He felt comfortably numb. Just him, in this little cocoon, just him and the safe little flame, flickering, dancing, alive.

The sounds of the Waverider helped him feel grounded, like he belonged. He missed New Girl and their eating contests. He missed Gideon, nosy as she was. He missed Blondie, and how she never was afraid to kick his ass when he needed it. He even missed Haircut. Mick had withdrawn like this so many times when Haircut made him feel and think and listen too much, made his brain too noisy. The guy was like an overexcited puppy, and he never let Mick's moods get to him. Mick pulled the blanket tighter around himself.

It had been nice to have someone be glad to see him. 'Cause everyone always saw Len showing off, and him tagging along. Just the muscle. But the Legends were his more than they were Len's.

He must have dozed off, but he woke up with a start when he heard cautious footsteps.

"Mick?" Barry asked, his voice soft but clear.

Mick grunted in reply. Not Len. Len knew better than to bother him. He rolled over, half facing Barry, but not looking at his face. The tea light flickered, the wick short. He must have slept longer than he thought. Barry walked carefully across the soft rug, and stood by his head, nervously looming above him. Mick must have flinched, because Barry squatted down, out of his line of sight.

"Thanks," Mick managed to say.

"So, I'm heading out to see Cisco, and I, uh, I was just worried… I don't know what I did, but it was something, and I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…"

"Red," Mick said firmly, eyes flickering up briefly to meet Barry's. That managed to shut him up. "Too much. Ain't your fault." Mick looked back up at the ceiling.

"Oh," he said, falling silent and sitting down on the floor with a thud that echoed in the quiet room.

That seemed to be it. No more babbling. But he didn't leave. Why didn't he leave? Mick chanced a quick glance in his direction. He was close, arms around his knees, looking at his hands. Mick worked one arm free from his blanket cocoon, and ran his fingers roughly through Barry's hair. Barry leaned in towards his hand like a freaking cat. Like Len had done when he was younger.

"'Remember when I said I didn't like ya?"

Barry just huffed in reply. They'd both been fired up and angry. It had been so soon after Len's sacrifice, and Barry had been ready to die, too.

"Not true anymore."

"I kinda figured," Barry said, angling for Mick to stroke his cheek. Mick took a firm grip on Barry's longish hair instead and pulled, none too gently. That earned him a gasp, and he smirked.

"No mushy stuff, remember? This," he pulled again, "is what I do."

"This, ah, this is good, too," Barry said, a little breathless.

Mick went back to carding his fingers through Barry's hair again, massaging his scalp. They fell into a surprisingly comfortable silence next to each other. The newly hatched Heatwave of nearly ten years ago would never have believed him if he could go back in time and tell him about this.

"Hey, Mick?" Barry squeezed his wrist firmly, removing his hand from his own head. "I don't want to ruin anything you have with Len. Let me know if I'm butting in where I'm not wanted."

Mick grunted in reply, and turned away, blanket held tighter around his shoulders.

"And now I've really got to go, or we'll get Cisco running in again to save me. See you later?" Barry got up and brushed off his pants, though not in the sarcastic way that Len did when Mick needed to clean.

"See ya, Red." Mick reached out, and tapped two fingers against the back of Barry's hand, and Barry returned the gesture. As he left, Mick could hear in his steps that he no longer was worried. Light steps, fast steps, but not quite super fast. Yeah, he liked the kid.

***

Len didn't venture downstairs until several hours later, and when he came down, he brought sandwiches and smoothies. Damn these smoothies, always "healthy" and "green". Mick had put his foot down when it came to kale, but Len still liked to sneak vegetables instead of fruit into the drinks. This was Len's idea of apology "cooking."

They ate in silence, Mick in his recliner and Len in the desk chair. Afterwards, Mick rinsed the taste of carrots out with another soda. He could taste the nasty veggies even beneath the ginger and orange. Still, he nodded a thanks to Len.

Mick could see that Len was aching to talk, like he usually did after Mick had a crash, but Mick wasn't in the mood. Not yet. They could talk later, if they had to, or just let the tension get buried in their vast history together. But there was one thing they could do, one thing that was certain to get Mick in a better mood.

"Tie me up?" he asked, and Len shone like the sun at the suggestion. He led Mick to the worn bunk in the corner, a relic from the time they had used two single beds clamped together as their common bed.

"Chest harness, arms in front?" Len suggested, and Mick nodded.

"Knees to elbows," he added.

"You sure? That's a strenuous position."

"Think I need it."

"Fair enough. Get undressed, I'll go pick up the rope."

Mick removed his clothes, folding them in a pile on the chair. The gesture was a gift, something special for Len. Mick was never much of a sub, and definitely didn't like obeying, but they've been arguing a lot lately about laundry and Mick's habit of just dropping the clothes where he stood when he undressed. Once he was naked, he waited, sitting on the edge of the bed. His mind was pleasantly empty. Len came back, the same red rope he had used on Barry yesterday coiled in his hands. Mick smirked, and Len had the decency to look just a little bit ashamed.

"Pink Floyd's Dogs, no repeats or autosuggestions," Len told the house AI, and the sounds of classic guitar rock started filling the basement. He turned to Mick. "We stop once this song is over, and that's non-negotiable."

Mick tilted his head in acknowledgement, and rose for Len, who started wrapping the rope around his torso and his arms, holding Mick's hands in a prayer position. It was a lovely comfort, like a hug, but not so invasive. No human to breathe on his skin.

"Okay?" Len asked, testing the ropes for tightness and Mick's hands for blood flow.

"No tingling. Just tight enough." He wiggled his fingers, showing their function. It always felt so good when they did this. Len was a goddamn miracle rope worker. He pushed Mick gently towards the bed, and Mick laid down on his side, presenting his legs. Two column ties later, his shins were held tightly together, and Len started working on attaching the top of those ropes to the arm ties. It was a little like a fetal position, and Mick definitely felt every year of his life in his hips and back.

Len stepped back to admire his handiwork. "Lookin' good, partner."

Mick was too far inside his head to talk now. Len usually didn't mind, he was used to dealing with it.

"Do you want me to touch you?" he asked. Mick nodded. "Shoulders?" Another nod.

And then he made him wait, moving excruciatingly slowly to sit down by Mick's head. His hands eventually came down to rest on Mick's shoulders, not rubbing or stroking, just pressing. A tiny twitch betrayed his impatience. Mick huffed, knowing full well that Len went the extra mile to calm down his hands whenever Mick couldn't voice his objections. It was a nice little gesture.

The last few notes of the song faded out. Mick must have lost time again, but it didn't bother him much. Len untied him carefully and slowly, and crouched by the bed.

"Get in here and spoon me," Mick commanded, and Len obeyed, grumpily.

"We're not eighteen anymore. There's not enough room." He still shuffled in behind Mick, holding him close. It was a tight fit, but neither of them were falling out of the bed. Len pulled a regular blanket around them.

Once Len no longer could see his face, it was easier to talk.

"So, fucking the Flash wasn't as easy as you expected, huh?"

"You can say that." Len peppered barely there kisses to Mick's back. "Do you think I was rushing in, promising too much?"

"You always plan stuff without me. A relationship is no heist." Mick let the silence envelop them again, thinking about what to say next. The bondage had loosened his tongue, but he was still kinda fuzzy in the head. "You've been obsessed with the kid since the first time you saw 'im. I dunno what you're after, Len. If you're only doing this to get in his pants, I'm calling it off now."

"I thought you were the one who insisted on 'no mushy stuff'?"

"Yeah, well, but you're my partner. And I don't wanna see what Red would do if you broke his heart." There was more to it, but that was the simple version. "He ain't bad. I could get used to having him around. Beats seeing you prance around in costume tryin' to get his attention."

"I don't---" Len objected.

"'Mick, he's not coming,'" Mick imitated with an exaggerated whine. "'Mick, let's leave without the loot.' You've been such a jackass."

Len snorted, and pinched Mick's nipple. Mick elbowed him in the flank, careful not to actually hurt him. If this had been their real bed, they'd play wrestle, but the narrow bunk didn't allow them much movement. Instead, Len rubbed his nose on Mick's back, following the slope of his shoulder blade down and up again. He stilled, arms around Mick's belly.

"Am I a bad partner?" Len asked. That was a complicated question. Anyone who scored them on partner points would surely fail them both.

"I knew you were an asshole when I married you," was the only reply that made sense.

There were noises behind Mick's back, and it took him a while to work out that Len was giggling like a little girl. Once he knew, Mick chuckled along with him, quietly.

"I don't want you to get all wrapped up in the new and shiny," Mick said, eventually. "I'm still your husband."

He could feel Len stiffen. They rarely used that word about each other, and when they did, it was often a bad sign.

"Do you need 'mushy stuff' from me, Mick?"

"Dunno. But a bit of appreciation doesn't hurt. And a blowjob."

"More oral sex, that's your solution to all relationship problems, for everyone," Len laughed.

"That's not true. More oral sex and more spankings, I always say." Mick turned around for a quick kiss, one that landed between Len's cheek and his mouth. "And, you know, getting to boss you around every once in a while would be nice." He could see Len's objections forming. "Not a lot, I know you don't like it, but, on my birthday? Once or twice a year?"

"You're the only person I trust enough," Len said, his voice small and his confident aura gone.

"I know," Mick said, turning away from Len's vulnerability. He pulled Len's arm around him and kissed his knuckles. "I know."