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Trick or Treat

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Len was ecstatic: he’d faced up against a speedster and won. The Kahndaq Dynasty Diamond was safe in his pocket, and he didn’t even have to split the profit. He was all smiles as he went back to his safehouse. His plan had been the head out of town with the diamond, but that was before the Scarlet Speedster showed up on that train. Now, maybe, it was worth sticking around for a while to see how everything played out?

He’d had a lot of fun this last few days, this speedster showing up had really forced Len to step up his game. Before he’d been getting bored with his work: it didn’t offer the same thrill that it used to. But what he’d done tonight was on another level, one he’d never even known existed until a few days ago. He’d actually been kind of relieved when the speedster’s friends had shown up. If he’d killed the speedster, then the game would have stopped, and Len didn’t actually want that. It was risky leaving the Streak alive, but Len had to hope that he’d made the right call.

Len placed his diamond into the hidden safe and stripped off his parka. He was thrumming with energy, but he couldn’t afford to go out tonight in public so soon after a heist with the police and the speedster on his tail. He shouldn’t be seen in public until the heat on him had died down a bit. Right now, probably every cop in town had his face memorised, and they were out scouting for any sign of him.

Len unstrapped the cold gun from his thigh and placed it onto the table, right next to the heat gun that he’d stolen for Mick. It was Len’s way of apologising for how things had gone down between them. He’d make his way over to Keystone in a week or so, and he’d approach Mick with a plan and the peace offering. But right now he just needed a drink.

Len cracked open a beer and relaxed back onto his sofa. He was too energised to watch TV or read a book. So instead he began stroking himself lazily through his jeans, encouraging his dick to stir. Len took a swig of his beer and sighed audibly. If there was one benefit to being alone after a heist, this was it. He let the energy and excitement of the night consume him as he unzipped his jeans and slipped his hand inside, cupping himself with his chilled fingers.

Len took another sip from his drink and sunk down lower into his seat, opening his legs wider as his dick began to harden in his hand. Len pulled himself free and leisurely stroked his own cock. He tilted his head back and closed his eyes, picturing the night's events so vividly as he worked himself towards completion. He’d never felt so powerful and in control before as he had when he faced up against the Streak with his cold gun in hand. And yet, at the same time, it’d felt like he was walking on a tightrope without a safety net and could at any moment fall to his death.

But it was that danger in this new uncharted territory that made it so enticing. Len could feel the precum building on the tip of his dick and slowly dripping down; he groaned deep in the back of his throat. Len used his thumb to smear it around, playing with his slit lightly before returning to pumping his cock.

Len thought of the speedster then. He thought about the feeling of electricity in the air when the man had shown up on that train during Len’s getaway. He thought of how much fun it’d been to outsmart and dominate the speedster at his own game.

Len’s dick gave a twitch in his hand as his mind wandered into other ways he could dominate the speedster and Len gasped, arching his back and feeling pleasure thrum through his body from his throbbing cock.

He thought about pushing the speedster down onto his knees and fucking into his pretty little mouth.

Len’s hips rocked into his hand, his cock leaking with precum.

Len pictured the speedster sucking him down greedily, rubbing himself off through that tight red suit as he deepthroated Len’s dick.

Len imagined what it would sound like if the speedster moaned around Len’s cock in his mouth, how it would feel

He came into his hand a moment later with a guttural moan of his own, his body quaking with the force of his orgasm. He sat there, panting and sweating, his mind peacefully blank as he came down from his high.

Len opened his eyes only once he realised that he was no longer holding his beer. It was lying next to him on its side as the last of its contents dripped from the bottle onto the floor. Len hadn’t even noticed when he’d dropped it. With a sigh, he shoved himself back into his jeans and moved to clean up. A quick wash of his hands and a scrub of the floor and Len was set to go.

He grabbed the long overcoat that was draped over the back of a nearby chair, placing the cold gun back into the strap on his thigh, and left. He’d never been much for sleeping at his safehouses and with no team members to placate, he could just go home after dropping off his loot. And so that’s what he did. It was only a short walk between this particular safe house and his apartment, about 10 minutes, but the fresh air helped to clear his mind.

He shouldn’t have let his mind wander when he was masturbating. The Streak had been a good opponent: with the way he’d swapped banter with Len, the cocky grin he wore, and not to mention the air of unbridled power he gave off his waves. Combine that with the way that tight red suit had just hugged him all over… he was exactly Len’s type. But Len knew he couldn’t afford to let himself indulge in such fantasies. When he next went up against the speedster, which he hoped would be very soon, he would need a clear head and not a horny one. This was the first and last time that Len would allow himself such thoughts.

When he got back to his apartment, he stripped off his coat and placed his cold gun on the kitchen countertop. He planned to make himself some food, have a shower, and go to sleep. But then he saw the flashing light on his answering machine and frowned to himself: not many people had that number and those that did have it would have rung his burner first if they needed to get hold of him.

He double-checked his mobile to see that he had no missed calls or texts before pressing the button on his answering machine:

You have 1 new message’ the machine said. Len waited next to it, still frowning. ‘First new message, received today at 3:47 pm’ the machine then beeped, and a familiar voice began speaking, it took him only a moment to place a face to the voice. When he did, Len frowned deeper and leaned back against the back couch behind him to listen to what she had to say.

Hey, Lenny… I know this probably seems really out of the blue to you but… I heard you’re back in Central – at least for the time being. I hope I haven’t missed you already because we really need to talk, Len. It’s important. Call me back.’ The woman ended the call with her number and hung up.

Len only hesitated a moment before picking up his phone and calling her back. Andrea Mendoza was an expert thief that Len had met about 7 years ago on a job. They worked together a few times before eventually getting together. But their relationship had never been anything serious. Or, at least, Len had never thought it was serious. Until Andy came to him one day asking about getting out of the business, settling down, living a normal life. Len had never thought she’d wanted any of that. He sure as hell hadn’t. He wasn’t made for a normal life. He turned her down, and so she left, and he never heard from her again.

Len had thought about her sometimes over the past 6 years, but he’d never tried to find her. She’d said she wanted a normal life and Len wasn’t going to interfere with that. Which was why it was such a surprise to hear her message. He owed it to her to hear her out.

“Hello?” Andy answered. She sounded tired, which made Len look to the clock on his stove. It was nearly 11 pm on a weekday, he supposed she must have been asleep. “Len?”

“Hey, Andy,” he said cautiously. He heard her sigh on the other end of the line.

“I’m glad you called,” she said, sounding relieved. “I’ve been trying to find you for a few months now. I need to tell you something.”

“And that is?” Len asked.

“Too complicated to say over the phone,” she muttered. “Can we meet? Tomorrow morning?”

“It would need to be in private,” Len hedged, indicating but not outright saying that he’d just pulled a job and needed to lie low for a while, but Andy seemed unphased by that.

“I’ll give you my address,” she replied quickly before rattling off the street name and number. Len confirmed that he’d be there and then he hung up.

“Well, this should be interesting,” he muttered to himself.

[] [] []

Len supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised when he found Andy’s house in the suburbs on the outskirts of Central City: he’d known that she wanted a normal life. But, still, he had just never imagined the ‘white picket fence’ life for her.

Her street was quiet and calm, the air seemed a little cleaner, all of the houses had gardens with luscious green grass and bright blooming flowers. No, this was nothing like the Andy he had known.

His guard was up as he knocked on the door, not knowing what to expect. He’d left his cold gun at home, but he’d tucked a small pistol into the inside of his coat: Len did trust Andy, but he wasn’t an idiot. There had to be a reason for this visit and Len needed to be prepared for whatever that was. But nothing malicious was waiting on the other side of the door for him.

Andy opened the door with a small smile and Len could only blink at her. The Andrea Mendoza that Len had dated 6 years ago was a strong woman, both mentally and physically. She’d been bounced from abusive foster carer to abusive foster carer for most of her childhood after her parents had died in a car crash when she was eight. So she’d learnt to protect herself. Len had once watched her break a man’s arm without breaking a sweat.

But now…

Andrea was thin, too thin, as though she would fall over at a moderate gust of wind. Her lips were cracked and her once tan skin had paled and now looked sunken, a stark contrast to the dark circles under her eyes.

“Hey, Lenny,” she said softly and pulled him in for a hug that he was too shocked to even think to refuse. She invited him into her home and led him to the living room. “Would you like a drink?” She asked and then paused. “I don’t think I have any coffee, but I’m sure there some juice or milk or…” Andy trailed off, and Len shook his head.

“You’re ill,” he said instead of answering her question. He didn’t want to put it off. Andy smiled sadly and nodded once, sitting down on the chair next to him.

“Cancer,” she explained. “I was diagnosed two years ago. I thought I’d beaten it but…”

“It came back?” Len asked softly, and Andy nodded.

“I’m dying, Len,” she said, her voice quiet and tired. It made the hairs on Len’s arms stand up. “The doctor’s don’t know when exactly. But I haven’t been responding to chemo this time around.”

“I’m sorry,” he said, not knowing what else he could say. They’d never been in love, but he’d cared deeply for Andrea and always wanted the best for her. Andy then took a deep breath and straightened up on her chair. She shook her head slightly as though to clear it.

“But that’s not why I’ve called you.” Len frowned again and sat a little straighter too. What could be more important than… this? “I called because… well, you have a daughter.”

That was… unexpected.

Len said nothing. At first, his mind fell utterly blank. But as the seconds passed it erupted into action. He was suddenly piecing together everything that had happened between himself and Andy six years ago, seeing it under a new light and realising why she’d changed her life so suddenly.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner,” she said as Len remained silent. “I was going to… but I didn’t want our lives for her. We were just two lowlife criminals, scrambling to find any way to feel alive. I wanted her to have everything that we couldn’t: a better education, better opportunities, better life.” Andy was speaking as though she had rehearsed this speech a million times over, but Len still remained silent. “You didn’t want this life and so I just… never told you about her.

“But now things are different. I’m dying, and I have no other family to take care of her when I’m gone. I know this is asking a lot, Len… but I’d rather her be raised a criminal than being put into foster care.” Andy’s voice was cracking a little, and her eyes were beginning to turn red as though she was fighting back the tears. “Please say something,” she eventually said.

But what could Len say? That he was more dangerous than ever? That he was unfit to raise and care for a child? That anything would be a better option than him?

Len didn’t say any of that. It was all true… probably. But how could he look his dying friend in the eyes and tell her that he, her last and only option, wouldn’t look after her child when she was gone? His child. His daughter. Len’s chest grew tighter.

“What’s her name?” He finally asked, and Andy smiled so wide that it looked painful as her thin skin stretched over her cheekbones.

“Sophie. Our daughter’s name is Sophie.”

[Several months later]

Barry was tense.

It was Halloween night, probably the craziest night of the year where law enforcement was concerned. There was something about putting on a costume that made people feel more powerful. As the Flash, Barry could understand that: every time he put on that cowl, he became something bigger than himself. It was freeing, but also a little scary how lost Barry Allen could become inside the persona of the Flash.

Psychologists called it deindividuation, Joe called it a scapegoat for young criminals in the making, but either way, it was true that Halloween brought out the worst in people. Which is why Barry was so surprised to find out he wasn’t being put on call this year at work. He didn’t mind though: he’d rather be out there preventing crimes as the Flash than stuck in a building analysing them after the fact.

Except that Eddie had let it slip that Barry was free tonight, which meant that Iris was on her way over with a bag full of scary movies. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to spend time with Iris because, of course, he did! Even with the tension that had arisen that they were still trying to work through after Barry confessed his feelings to her and she turned him down. It was awkward, but Barry wanted to be in her life… even if it was only as a friend. So, no, that wasn’t the issue here. The problem was that it was Halloween, but he wasn’t able to help anyone.

And so Barry was tense.

Every now and then, some of the younger trick or treaters would knock on Joe’s door and pull Barry out of his thoughts. He tried to relax, tried to just be Barry Allen for a night, but it was difficult. Barry was nervously tidying when there was another knock at the door. He opened it to find a young girl dressed in a clearly-handmade Elsa costume and holding a plastic snowflake-shaped bucket, with her dad who was wearing a red velvety-looking hoodie.

He looked familiar, but Barry couldn’t quite place where they’d met. He tried not to pay too much attention to the dad, feeling butterflies swirl in his stomach at the man’s chiselled face and stunning blue eyes.

“Trick or treat!” The young girl, no older than 5, sang. And Barry pulled his attention back to her, smiling.

“Oh, wow!” Barry said. “What a cute little Elsa you are!” She gave a twirl, showing off the sparkly snowflake clips in her mousy brown hair while making the skirt of her dress float elegantly. “Definitely royalty,” Barry nodded, and the little girl laughed.

“Thank you!” She grinned. “My aunty made it b’cause my daddy is grumpy,” she said, and Barry laughed, looking back at the man in front of him who was smiling and rolling his eyes at his daughter’s words, or most likely his sister’s words being repeated back by his daughter. Either way, it was cute. And Barry wasn’t just saying that because the guy was hot, which he was. Barry returned his attention back to the little girl.

“Is your daddy dressed up too?” He asked, and she nodded and then moved in closer as though she was telling Barry a secret.

“He’s the Flash,” she whispered excitedly. And Barry laughed, feeling something stir in his chest at the thought of someone choosing to dress up as him. He still wasn’t used to this kind of public admiration yet. And the fact that the guy was super hot just made the whole situation even better.

“The Flash… but with more style,” the man countered playfully and that voice

It sent a chill down Barry’s spine. And not the good kind.

Now Barry knew why he looked so familiar. It had been months since he’d last heard it, but that drawl was unforgettable. And Barry now knew, without a doubt, that the man standing in front of him was Leonard Snart.

Well, crap.

Barry froze. Was this all a game? Had Snart somehow figured out his identity? It couldn’t be a coincidence that Captain Cold had shown up at the Flash’s house on Halloween, claiming to be dressed as the Flash. There had to be some kind of explanation here!

Barry caught himself staring at Snart when the older man raised an eyebrow and smirked back at him. Fuck. He knew. How did he know?

“But you can’t tell anyone!” The little girl stage whispered again, demanding Barry attention. “His ident’tys a secret,” she then made a shushing motion. Barry looked down at her and then back up at Snart, and that’s when he saw the similarities between the two. They shared the same eyes and same nose, he realised. And then there was the way that Snart looked down at the girl and laughed. He looked at her as though she was his whole world. So… this wasn’t a game? This was really Snart’s daughter?

Barry felt like he had mental whiplash.

“Of course,” Barry said slowly. “My lips are sealed.”

Barry’s mind was reeling. This was really the same man that had held him at gunpoint just a few months ago? That had killed that security guard and made off with a giant diamond the size of Barry’s fist? How could that be? Snart was a villain. He wasn’t supposed to be… good.

Barry was staring again. He knew he was, but he just couldn’t stop himself.

“I see you’re not wearing a costume,” Snart accused, and Barry blinked before rolling his eyes.

“Oh yeah, like a red hoodie counts as a costume,” Barry scoffed back.

“I’m undercover,” Snart replied as though it was apparent.

“Yeah. Of course,” Barry snorted despite himself. Snart took a small step forward, looking at Barry so intensely that it surprised him

“You know… I can think of a costume or two that you would look great in,” Snart continued, his eyes roaming slowly down Barry’s body and back up again. Barry blushed so deep at that that he could feel the redness creeping over his neck and chest. Snart seemed to really be enjoying that. Oh, God. Captain Cold was flirting with him! He must have mistaken Barry’s staring as Barry being interested in him – which he was, but that was beside the point. This was… Barry didn’t even know what this was. Stupid? Disastrous? Kind of hot? Maybe a bit of all three.

“Aren’t you going to give this poor girl her chocolate?” Iris said suddenly, announcing her arrival. She was standing at the bottom of the garden, leaning against a post as though she’d been there for a while. God, when had she shown up?! “Or are you going to keep flirting with…” Iris made a gesture towards Snart, encompassing his whole body, “the Flash.” Her eyes were sparkling, but Barry was dying on the inside.

Barry shook himself and grabbed the bowl of candy from the table beside the door. He lowered it down to the girl with an apologetic smile, his face still burning hot and his heart beating erratically in his chest.

“Thank you!” The girl said as she grabbed a chocolate bar. “Can I take one for my Mummy?” She asked then, looking between Barry and Snart as her smile started slipping. “She’s not very well.”

“Of course,” Barry said instantly. The girl looked at her dad for his approval, and Snart nodded and smiled softly; he looked sad.

“That’s a great idea, Pumpkin,” he said, and Barry started staring at him again. Pumpkin. Leonard Snart called his daughter Pumpkin. Was Barry asleep? Was this all just some weird, sugar-induced dream? Because that would make much more sense at this point.

“Hey, I’m Iris,” Iris said to Snart as she approached the porch. “And that is my friend Barry.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Snart drawled, looking back at Barry with a look in his eye that made Barry’s heart jump inside his chest. “I’m Len, and this is Sophie,” he said, looking back down at his daughter who was smiling back up at him.

“I haven’t seen you around the neighbourhood before,” Iris said. There was a tone in her voice that told Barry that she was up to something and he had no way to stop whatever plan she was coming up with.

“I just moved here,” Snart, Len, confirmed. “I bought the house on Crescent Avenue.” Barry baulked at that. Crescent Avenue was only a few streets away from here. Captain Cold was going to be living less than a five-minute walk away from the Flash’s house!

“Oh, really?” Iris said idly. “I guess you don’t know all of the good houses that give out the best candy on Halloween, then?” Oh crap… Barry knew where she was going with this now. He tried his best to tell her with his eyes that she needed to stop. But she wasn’t paying Barry any of her attention, and she clearly had no idea who it was she was talking to. “Oh, I know!” She said innocently. “How about Barry shows you around tonight? We’ve been living here since we were kids. I’m sure you still remember all the families that spring for the full-sized candy bars, right Barry?” Iris asked. And then all three pairs of eyes turned to him.

“I… I don’t know…” Barry started, his blush building up again once more. Goddammit, the night had barely begun, and it was already a disaster. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to impose…” he said.

“It would be my pleasure… Barry,” Snart said, his eyes seeming to undress Barry, looking at him bare in a way that made him both nervous and a little hot. And then there was little Sophie standing next to Snart with the biggest puppy dog eyes that Barry had ever seen. How could he say no?

Seriously?

How?

Chapter Text

“How about Barry shows you around tonight? I’m sure you still remember all the families that spring for the full-sized candy bars, right, Barry?” Iris asked with that fake-innocent grin of hers.

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

“I guess I could do that,” Barry agreed slowly, finding no way out of it. What possible reason could he give to turn this down that wouldn’t end up making Snart suspicious?!

“Yay!” Sophie said, jumping and hugging Barry’s waist. Barry smiled nervously as Iris took the bowl of candy from him. He grabbed a jacket from behind the door and, with a deep breath, moved out to give Leonard Snart a candy tour of the neighbourhood.

“Have fun!” Iris called after him, having no idea what she’d just stuck him with. Barry put on a fake smile, inwardly cursing, and followed after the little girl skipping ahead of them. When she got to the road, Sophie turned to look at Barry for guidance. Barry gestured to the Petrelli’s two doors down from him. They’d always had a great selection to choose from when he went trick or treating. He just had to hope that not much had changed in the past 12 years.

“Did we interrupt your night?” Snart asked, looking back over his shoulder at where Iris was watching them leave. Sophie waited until they were only a few feet away before she skipped ahead again, and this drew Snart’s attention back to his daughter.

Daughter.

God! It was so damn weird to think of Leonard Snart as a Dad! And a loving one too, if the way he was watching over his daughter was anything to go by. Barry wondered yet again whether this was all just some weird dream.

“Your… friend?” Snart continued, the lift in his voice making it sound as though it was a question. “You two didn’t have any plans, did you?” Wait. Was Snart trying to ask Barry whether or not he was fucking Iris?

“What? No!” Barry said quickly, looking up at Snart with wide eyes before quickly averting his gaze again. “We are just friends,” he said. Barry may love Iris, but it was clear that she didn’t feel the same way. Maybe if he had said something before she’d met Eddie, then this would be different. But it was a waste of time playing the ‘what if’ game, it only caused Barry more pain. “We’re just going to watch some scary movies and eat leftover candy.”

“Single then?” Len asked.

“What gave you that idea?” He said sarcastically with a huff of a laugh. Barry frowned at himself for a moment and almost berated himself for how he was talking to Snart as though he was just another, extremely attractive, neighbour. Which he wasn’t. He was a criminal.

But then… how else was he supposed to speak? Barry couldn’t exactly switch gears on Snart now: it would be too suspicious. He needed to treat Snart the same way he would anyone else.

“You are far too pretty to be single, Barry,” Len said, smirking at him as he glanced to Barry out of the corner of his eye. Barry didn’t know what to say to that. He was literally flabbergasted, his mouth just opening and closing uselessly without saying a word.

Okay, no. Barry couldn’t deal with this. But… the Flash could.

Sometimes Barry felt as though he and the Flash were two different people in the same body. Once he put on that cowl, he changed. He became stronger, more confident, more capable. And that’s what he needed right now.

But this time he was wearing another mask. He was wearing the mask of an innocent, naïve, man. Snart thought that Barry was clueless about his criminal past, but Snart was the clueless one in this conversation.

“Are you coming on to me… Len?” Barry asked, feeling more capable already. He was in control here. He could do this. “Don’t start something you’re not going to finish.”

“Oh I intend to finish,” Snart drawled, eying Barry up and down.

“You could at least buy me dinner first,” Barry replied with a wink as they entered the Petrelli’s yard. Sophie was waiting for them eagerly and knocked loudly on the door once they were close enough.

“Trick or treat!” She said happily as Mr Petrelli opened the door to her. He was an old man, skinny with a head of grey hair. His wife had died several years ago, and Barry hadn’t seen him out and about much since it’d happened. Seeing him now, so frail, Barry thought that maybe he might benefit from a visit from a health advisor.

“Frozen,” the man laughed as he handed out the chocolate. “My grandson loves that movie.”

Sophie asked the man, just as she had asked Barry, for an extra chocolate bar for her mother. He was quick to offer her the extra candy. Sophie thanked Mr Petrelli, and they turned to leave.

The house next door was thoroughly decorated with pumpkins and giant spider webs and a bright, blood-spattered, ‘Happy Halloween’ banner in the window. Barry didn’t know the young couple who lived there, but Sophie got really excited when they got passed the large hedge and she saw the decorations. She tugged on Snart’s hand and pulled him towards the house, Barry following quietly.

Sophie skipped excitedly up to the door and Barry was surprised to see Snart’s soft smile for his daughter. It was so… domestic.

“Careful, Pumpkin,” Snart warned and then leant down to stage-whisper in her ear. “The giant spider might be home.” Sophie gasped and stopped to look closer at the giant spiderweb overhanging the porch. Snart stood up straight and made a shushing motion, encouraging his daughter to sneak past the spiderweb silently.

Barry couldn’t help but laugh at the sight, and Sophie spun around to shush him.

“The spider might be home!” She repeated to him, and Barry just about managed to control his smile into a more serious expression for the girl’s sake, nodding. When she turned back around, Barry followed and stood beside Snart’s side as Sophie knocked on the door.

“Trick or treat!” She sang, after confirming with her dad that it was safe to make a noise again. The woman who opened the door was barely older than Barry. She had black hair, and half of her face was painted like a doll. She picked a bowl up off of a cupboard sitting beside the door and offered it to Sophie to chose from. Just like before, Sophie asked if she could take a second bar home for her mum, but the woman frowned.

“I bet your mummy doesn’t want to eat all that candy if she’s already sick,” the woman said, shaking her head. She put the bowl back on the cupboard. “Why don’t you share your bar with her? I’m sure that would make her happier.”

“Okay,” Sophie whispered; her shoulders sunk, and she nodded her head. But Barry could see she was sad and that made him angry. Sophie turned away to face her dad, and Barry stepped forward before the woman could shut the door.

“Hey,” he said, getting the woman’s attention. He smiled at her and offered out his hand for her to shake. “I’m Barry. You’re new here, right?” He asked. The woman shook his hand and nodded.

“Charlie. And yeah, my husband and I moved in just a few months ago,” she said.

“Well, welcome to the neighbourhood,” he said and then gestured to her Halloween makeup. “Love the costume.” The woman grinned and thanked him. “Though, I think it’s smudged a little bit,” he said, tapping his own face where the imaginary smudge was. The woman frowned and leant back to look in the mirror that was hanging in her entranceway. While she was distracted, Barry used his super-speed to grab an extra chocolate bar from the bowl sitting next to the door. He shoved it into his jacket pocket, taking a step back and waving goodbye to the woman. “See you around,” he called, still pretending to be the ‘good neighbour’.

Len and Sophie were waiting for him at the bottom of the porch; Len’s eyes were laser focussed, and Barry had a second to worry that Snart had just seen him use his superpowers. But, no, he’d been careful. Snart had been behind him… he couldn’t have seen anything. Barry ignored the pit of worry in his stomach and smiled. He dug the chocolate bar out from his jacket pocket and handed it to Sophie.

“For your mum,” he said, and Sophie squealed happily, hugging his waist as a way of saying thank you and then skipping ahead once more.

“She changed her mind?” Snart asked, his eyes occasionally darting between watching Barry’s face and keeping an eye on Sophie.

“Not exactly,” Barry shrugged. Snart raised his eyebrow at Barry, encouraging him to say more. “Just… a little distraction and sleight of hand,” Barry elaborated, feeling his neck heating up. To Barry’s surprise, Snart laughed: a deep, warm, full-body kind of laugh that made Barry’s stomach fill with butterflies. He smiled back at Len automatically.

“Are you telling me you stole it, Barry?” Len taunted, he was still smiling wide. And that smile was distracting.

He was seconds away from responding with ‘you’re one to talk’ when Sophie set off a motion-sensor Halloween decoration. It was a life-sized skeleton, standing up against a nearby fence and as Sophie got close enough to it, the decoration’s eyes lit up a bright red, and it jolted suddenly forward as it let out a loud and menacing laugh.

Surprised by the decoration, Sophie let out a short scream and ran back to her dad’s side. There were already tears in her eyes and a hitch in her breathing as Len picked up and comforted his daughter. Barry’s heart jumped into his throat as he realised what he’d almost said. He was moments away from revealing that he knew exactly who Len was! That would have been a terrible mistake.

“Shhh, it’s okay,” Len cooed softly as Sophie buried her head in his shoulder. “It’s just a toy.”

“A t-toy?” Sophie spluttered, looking up and revealing her big reddened eyes. Len nodded and brushed the hair off of her face. The decoration was still laughing ahead of them as though it was mocking her.

“Mhm.”

Sniffling, Sophie slowly peeked over her shoulder to look back at the skeleton, then quickly buried her head back in Len’s hoodie.

“Sc… Scary,” she managed to say, shaking her head.

“Do you want me to go beat it up?” Len asked, sounding serious. Despite herself, Sophie let out a short, wet laugh. She nodded against Len’s shoulder, and Len passed Sophie to Barry. Surprised, Barry took the little girl and watched Len march forward with the intent to beat up a, now silent, decoration. Sophie hugged Barry tightly and peeked over her shoulder again to watch her father.

“What are you doing?” Barry stage-whispered to Len, who turned around and gave Barry a wink. Barry wordlessly rocked Sophie as she calmed down and they both watched as Len hoped over the fence, far enough away from the toy to not set it off. He examined the skeleton and removed its batteries before picking it up and carrying it to the porch of the house. He then put the batteries back in and rang the doorbell, moving quickly to head back to Barry and Sophie.

Barry shook his head, though didn’t move to stop the situation, as the home’s owner opened the door and the movement instantly set off the sensor on the decoration, making it erupt to life. The unexpecting woman gave a shout of surprise, dropping her candy on the floor and jumping back out of sight.

Sophie shrieked with delight, and Len scooped her back out of Barry’s arms, smirk in place at having avenged his daughter. They quickly crossed the street and moved off to the next house as the skeleton laughed manically in the distance. Barry was smiling, looking over at Sophie and Len, and forgetting about his earlier near-miss. Sophie had mostly stopped crying now, but she was picking at the tear-stained wet spot on Len’s hoodie.

“So’ry,” she said softly, and Len shook his head, kissing her cheek gently.

“Nothing to apologise for,” Len assured her, but she still looked sad and sorry for herself.

“That thing was scary,” Barry said, and Sophie looked his way, red spots splattering across her cheeks and forehead. “It even made me jump, and you were much closer to it. You were very brave.”

“Yeah?” She asked quietly, and Barry nodded. She started to squirm, and so Len put her back down on the ground. She hung back with them, though, walking in between them and holding Len’s hand.

“I’ll protect you, Barry,” Snart teased, drawing Barry’s attention again. Barry rolled his eyes: he was used to people seeing him as weak.

“I can protect myself,” he said. It was supposed to be light, but maybe it came across as a bit defensive…

“I’m sure.”

“I can,” Barry insisted. “I could take you on!” And actually… maybe that wasn’t true? Barry suddenly was brought back to the times that he had fought Captain Cold and how he had lost on both of those occasions. How had he let himself forget who he was talking to? This was Leonard Snart.

“Have you ever been in a fight, Barry?” Snart asked, amused, continuing on as though he hadn’t noticed Barry become suddenly tense.

“More than you’d think,” Barry answered seriously. Snart paused in his walking and looked Barry over a little closer. It made Barry feel bare again.

“What do you think, Pumpkin?” Snart asked his daughter, turning his head slightly to address her as his eyes remained fixed on Barry. “Do you think Barry can protect us?” Sophie looked at him and scrunched up her nose in concentration before shaking her head. “Well, there’s your answer,” Len drawled smoothly, and Barry put his hand to his chest in fake-offence, laughing.

“I’m hurt, Sophie,” he said, making her laugh.

They started moving again, turning up the next driveway. Sophie looked a little happier as she knocked on and was given more candy to put in her snowflake-shaped bucket. Sophie looked to her dad and he nodded, encouraging her to ask for another bar for her mum. Mr Wilson was happy to give her an extra bar.

“And here you go, Barry,” Mr Wilson said, passing Snart and Barry their own chocolate bars too, claiming that it was only fair.

“You don’t have to…” Barry began to say.

“I’ll take yours!” Sophie immediately chimed in, and so Barry took the chocolate quickly and held it to his chest, protecting it.

“I didn’t say no,” he said quickly and laughed as he watched Sophie pout. When they turned around, though, he dropped his chocolate bar into her bucket. “For safekeeping,” he told her and then squinted at her suspiciously. “You wouldn’t let me forget it and then keep it all to yourself now, would you?” He asked, and Sophie shook her head, grinning. She ran ahead again, her previous fright all but forgotten.

Next, they headed to the Warwick house.

“You lived here all your life?” Len asked casually as they walked, but not turning to face Barry as he kept his eyes on his little girl at all times. So the scare from the decoration wasn’t forgotten by everyone yet then, he realised. Barry had to wonder if being a parent was worse for Snart than most people, knowing full well what dangers were around every corner. And that thought made Barry wonder if it had been worse for Joe, too. Maybe that was why he had been so overprotective with them as they grew up? Why he was still overprotective of them now. Particularly of Iris.

“Most of it,” Barry said. “I moved in with Joe and Iris when I was 12.” Len spared him a glance but didn’t ask anything about what Barry’s life was like before 12. He could feel the question hanging between them, though.

Barry didn’t usually lead with a rundown of his childhood trauma. Partially because everyone pitied him for it, partially because it creeped people out when he said his dad was in prison and no one actually ever believed in his innocence.

But somehow, he got the feeling that Snart wouldn’t judge.

“My mum died when I was a kid,” he said. “And they arrested my dad for it. But he’s innocent.” Snart spared him a glance again and then nodded.

“That must have been hard.”

“It was,” Barry admitted. “But Joe took me in and raised me like his own.”

“He sounds like a good man,” Len said, and Barry nodded, smiling at the irony of Snart complimenting the very detective that was hell-bent on bringing him down.

“He is.”

They arrived at the Warwick house, and Sophie knocked on shouted trick or treat and dug into their bowl of candy to pick out the best one. Mrs Warwick glanced over at Barry with a twinkle in her eyes and Barry blushed harder than he had the whole night. He realised what this looked like suddenly: standing so close to Snart as he was doing and showing around this adorable little girl. Combine that with the fact that pretty much everyone in this neighbourhood knew that Barry was into men after Mrs Baxter had caught him making out with a guy after a date when he was seventeen. And she didn’t exactly shy away from spreading his business around like wildfire. That had been his first kiss, but now Barry could barely think about it without cringing…

So, yeah, that look Mrs Warwick was giving him? Without a doubt, she thought that he was married with a kid now. Fuck. He resigned himself to his fate as she opened her mouth to ask questions and probably coo over ‘what a great couple you make’ when Sophie, bless her little heart, spoke first.

“Can I take a bar back for my Mummy?” She asked Mrs Warwick, just as she had asked several times already tonight. “She’s too ill to come trick ‘r treating with me.” Mrs Warwick was frowning instantly, seemingly too confused by the situation to bring up Barry’s love life, but gave a nod. Barry let out a sigh of relief, and soon they were walking away. Barry’s mind returned to the previous conversation once they left Warwick’s yard.

“Do you believe me? About my father’s innocence?” He asked Len, surprised that he hadn’t seen even a hint of an eye roll when he’d brought it up earlier.

“Why wouldn’t I?” Len asked with a shrug. “You were 12, right?” He asked, and Barry nodded. “So it’s been… what?”

“About 14 years.”

“And you’re still this convinced he’s innocent. I don’t know your story, Barry, but you seem smart enough. If you’re still this sure of it after all this time, then there’s got to be a reason for that.”

“There is,” Barry said, and Len nodded as though it was all that simple. “Most people don’t believe me,” he said idly, and Len smirked.

“I’m not most people.”

“No… you’re not.” They arrived at the next house then and, this time, Barry was quick to introduce Len and Sophie as being new to the neighbourhood before any assumptions could be made.

“Are you ashamed to be linked with us, Barry?” Len teased as they walked away from the house, clearly having noticed Barry’s attempt at strategically distancing them. “No wonder you’re still single,” he muttered to himself.

“Hey!” Barry replied, offended. “You’re single too!”

“Yes, but I have issues,” Len replied quickly, and Barry laughed. When they came to the next house, Len beat Barry to the introductions. “Hi, I’m Len and this little queen is my daughter Sophie, we’re new to the neighbourhood,” he said and Barry’s only queue that he was up to something was a smirk and a wink he threw Barry’s way a millisecond before he continued with: “And I’m sure you’ve met my husband, Barry.”

Barry was red all over from head to toes, and it took a full five minutes before Mrs Plant accepted that it was all just a joke and he was definitely not married with a kid.

“Why would you do that?” Barry asked, his voice a little higher than usual, as they walked away.

“I think you’d be lucky to have us, Barry,” Len said with a shrug and a smirk. “Don’t you agree, Pumpkin?” He asked Sophie, who was now walking beside Len and holding his hand again. Barry didn’t think that she really clicked what was going on, but she nodded her agreement anyway.

When they got to the next house, Barry jumped in again to introduce Len and Sophie, leaning in closer to Mr Hems to stage-whisper “just doing a little charity work, you know. Helping out the needy and inept” once Sophie was too distracted to overhear while digging through the bag of sweets to pick out her favourite option.

At the next house, Len retaliated by introducing Barry as his “mistress.”

“Okay! Okay! Truce?” Barry asked after that. Because it was either let this competition of theirs drop, or allow the lies escalate slowly from house to house until Barry was so embarrassed that he could no longer live in this neighbourhood anymore.

“I suppose so,” Len nodded with a smirk, and they continued to the rest of the houses on Barry’s list, skipping the introductions from then on.

After a little while, Sophie began to get tired so Len ended up picking her up and carrying her to the next house. And there was something about the way that he hugged her tight as he carried her that warmed Barry’s heart. They’d only known each other for about forty minutes, but already the image of Captain Cold in Barry’s mind had begun to fade. Len was a criminal… but he was more than that. How could Barry even doubt that there was good inside Len when he saw this? Len decided it was probably time to go home as Sophie struggled to stay awake and so Barry walked them back to Crescent Avenue. He could have just turned and gone home right now but, well, they were closer to Len’s house than to his own anyway.

And, maybe, possibly, Barry didn’t want the night to end just yet. He’d have never expected to have this much fun with Leonard Snart. They took a more leisurely pace back, talking quieter so as to not disturb Sophie. But, eventually, Len began to slow.

“This is me,” Len said, digging out a pair of keys and unlocking a nearby car. Barry frowned, looking from the car to the house that it was parked in front of with a sold sign in its yard.

“I thought you lived here,” Barry said, confused, and Len nodded as he loaded his daughter into the car seat.

“I do,” he said. Len stood up and shut the door carefully, looking at Sophie sleeping peacefully in the back seat for a moment before turning to face Barry. “Her mum is ill,” he reminded Barry, his voice suddenly sombre. “She doesn’t have much time left. And I don’t want to take away whatever moments they have left together, so Sophie lives there.”

“I’m sorry,” Barry said softly. “I didn’t know.” Though he supposed he could have figured it out if he’d really paid attention to everything the little girl had said that night. “You’re a good guy, Len,” Barry finally said, feeling confident in his statement.

“You sound surprised.”

“I… no,” Barry shook his head and took a deep breath, trying not to give away any clue that they’d met before, twice before actually, under very different circumstances. “I just mean, there are so few decent people out there. But you are. Truly.”

“So are you,” Len nodded and then laughed. “And I have to admit that ‘good’ is not usually my type.”

“I can be bad,” Barry replied, fake-offended. Len nodded and slinked closer.

“I’m sure you can,” he whispered into Barry’s ear, his breath caressing Barry’s cheek. Barry turned his head towards Len and kissed him. Len’s hands fell to Barry’s waist instantly and pulled him closer. Barry’s hand grasped hold of the red hoodie Len was wearing. It was as soft as it looked, and such a stark contrast to the hard, fervent kiss. He could feel Len’s tongue searching against his lips, and so he opened his mouth to it.

When they pulled apart, Barry was a hot mess and his body was thrumming eagerly. There had been so much… passion and want squeezed into that short moment. They stayed peacefully quiet for a moment, holding each other. But then Len pulled back a little bit, turning around to look inside the back seat of his car at his daughter.

“I need to go,” he said before turning back to look at Barry again. “Can I have your number.” Barry nodded and didn’t hesitate to rattle off his digits as Len typed them into his phone. Len leant in close for one last kiss, just a haste press of their lips, before moving back and getting into the car. “I’ll call you,” he said before closing the door, and Barry nodded.

“You’d better.”

Chapter Text

Barry didn’t know what had just come over him. He’d essentially just been on a date with Leonard Snart, a thief… a murderer. How had Barry let himself forget that? He’d just made out with a murderer. A murderer had his phone number! This was wrong on so many levels. He should have found a way to excuse himself and go home. He shouldn’t start thinking of Leonard as a good man just because of how he acts around his daughter. He shouldn’t want to see Len again. But, oh, he did.

The man was just so attractive, so smart, so witty. And, yes, the way he acted around Sophie was absolutely adorable. It had been only six months or so since he faced off against Snart for the Kahndaq Dynasty Diamond… but maybe the thief had changed somehow. Maybe he deserved a second chance. Barry certainly hoped so, because the man he had met tonight was everything that Barry could have wanted.

But when had any relationship ever gone right for Barry Allen? It would be just his luck if Len turned out to be a vicious criminal after all.

Barry walked back to Joe’s house slowly, his mind caught in a loop as he wondered whether Len was one of the good guys or not. And it didn’t help that Iris was there waiting for him the second that he opened the door.

“So?” She prodded instantly before he even had a chance to close the door behind him and take off his jacket. “What’s Hottie like?” She asked. Barry just kind of shrugged and started picking at the candy still sitting beside the door. “Oh, come on!” She pouted as Barry stuffed chocolate into his mouth to avoid answering her. “Give me something here, Bear! Did you like him?”

Well, that at least was an easy question to answer. Barry, reluctantly, nodded. There was no denying that he did like Len. Barry sat down and was about to unwrap another chocolate bar, but Iris pinched it from him before he got the chance.

“Talk to me, Barry,” she pleaded.

“Your puppy dog eyes need some work,” he muttered after swallowing his last bite. Iris laughed and moved to sit next to him on the sofa, tucking her legs up and shifting to face him full on. Barry sighed and nodded, resigned to his fate.

It wasn’t just that talking with Iris about someone he liked was awkward, which it was. Having confessed his feelings to her twice now, and each time she turned him down… well, it was difficult to move past that. He still cared for her, and she still didn’t return his feelings. And they were both acutely aware of that. But he powered through his embarrassment and heartache anyway. Because, even though it broke his heart, Barry wanted Iris to be happy. And he wanted to be in her life, always. Even if it was just as friends.

“I… uh… I gave him my number,” Barry offered her, trying to avoid lying too much about Len since Iris was still unaware of Barry’s identity as the Flash.

“That’s great, Barry!” Iris said cheerfully. She moved to touch his arm but then halted at the last second as though thinking it might not be a good idea. After only a quick pause, though, Iris followed through with the action. She gave Barry’s arm an encouraging squeeze. “Did you steal a kiss?” She whispered, and Barry’s immediate blush was answer enough for Iris as she squealed cheerfully. “I’m so happy that you’re getting out there!” She said, and her voice only sounded a little awkward about it.

Barry smiled softly and nodded.

“Me too.”

[] [] []

“Have you eaten all of your candy yet?” Len asked his daughter. They were sitting inside Andy’s house, himself on the sofa and Sophie sitting on a stool in front of him with her back to Len as he brushed her hair.

“No, Mummy made me save most of it for later,” she sighed as though it was the biggest travesty in the world. Len liked that. When he and Lisa were kids, they’d been forced to grow up fast. By the time he was Sophie’s age, he’d already started learning that the world was a terrible place and that everyone would eventually let you down. But Sophie was so far untouched by the world; she was so innocent, and Len would give anything to keep her that way for as long as he could manage.

It hurt him to realise that this innocence and child-like naivety wouldn’t last much longer: Andrea was getting sicker every day, and Len knew it wouldn’t be long until Sophie lost her mother. No matter how much Len wanted to protect her from the darkness in the world, he couldn’t protect her from that.

“Did someone say candy?” Lisa asked, appearing behind them after letting herself into the house. “And where exactly would these leftovers be?” She teased.

“Auntie Lisa!” Sophie squealed happily, spinning around and out of Len’s reach.

“My Liege,” Lisa replied, bowing at Sophie in a grand swooping gesture. Sophie got up and ran to her. Lisa snatched her up quickly and into a big hug. “How’s the young Queen doing this morning?” She asked, and Sophie shook her head in a big dramatic way which made her curls bounce.

“I’m not Elsa anymore, Auntie Lisa,” Sophie said, and Lisa shook her head instantly.

“But you’ll always be a Queen,” she said, pinching Sophie’s cheek and making the young girl laugh. Len smiled as he watched the interaction. He was glad that Lisa had taken to Sophie so quickly… it had been harder at first for Len to show that kind of affection to his daughter. But, over the months, he’d learnt to allow his guard down around her. It was difficult to unlearn something that had taken him nearly 40 years to perfect in the first place, but it was worth it to see Sophie smile at him.

He’d only been a father for about six months, but his life had already changed so much for the better.

“But, speaking of Halloween,” Lisa said. “How did you like your present?” Lisa was talking about the diamond snowflake hair clips that she’d procured for Sophie’s costume, and Len shook his head at the reminder, but Sophie was already talking excitedly about her new favourite hair accessories.

“But Mummy says I have to wait u’til a special day to wear them again,” she pouted, and Lisa nodded.

“Your Mum has a point,” Lisa said. “You wouldn’t want to lose them, would you?” Sophie shook her head no and sighed sadly as Lisa put her back onto the floor. “Where is Andy?” She asked Len, and he nodded to the window.

“Back garden,” he answered, and Lisa nodded.

“Do you want to go join her?” She asked Sophie, who nodded quickly and started running towards the door. Len and Lisa followed after her but in a much slower fashion.

“Hey, don’t mention the clips around Andy, okay?” Len asked once they were alone. “She probably wouldn’t appreciate that they were stolen.”

“Oh, Lenny,” Lisa said with a shake of her head. “You don’t think that she’s already put two and two together? She used to be a thief too, you know. And any good thief can spot a real diamond when they see one,” she said.

“Still…” Len said. Lisa had a point, and Andrea probably did already know about the clips, but he’d made a promise to her months ago that he would try his best to keep Sophie away from this kind of thing. Andy didn’t want their daughter raised into a life of crime and, when Len really thought about it, he didn’t want that either. Lisa, on the other hand, had made no such promises which she liked to point out to Len regularly.

When they made it outside, Sophie was running towards her swing set while Andy sat on the large wooden bench with a cup of green tea in her hand. They joined Andy and Len watched his daughter play happily. He was still amazed sometimes by just how domestic his life had become. He’d never expected this for himself.

“Lisa, I didn’t know you were visiting today,” Andy greeted and welcomed the hug that Lisa offered her.

“Well, my day was free, so I thought I’d stop in and visit my favourite family members,” she replied and then smiled devilishly as she turned to Len. “And my brother is here too, apparently.”

“Love you too, Sis,” Len said with a roll of his eyes. They sat down beside Andrea, but Len didn’t like the look in Andy’s eyes as she watched him.

“So, Lenny,” Andy said. She started smiling in a way that made Len uneasy. “Sophie tells me that she had a great time trick or treating with you yesterday,” she said, and Len sighed, knowing exactly where this was going. “From the sounds of it, you had a pretty good time too.”

“What’s that mean?” Lisa asked, looking over at her brother and frowning. “What did you do?” She asked, sounding disappointed already. Len rolled his eyes, but Andy was the one to answer.

“He met a guy.”

Lisa lifted a perfectly sculpted eyebrow in surprise, turning back to Len with excitement now rather than apprehension.

“Oh? What’s he like?” She asked, and Len sighed, resigned to his fate now that these two women were nosing into his love life. He knew from past experiences that Lisa was like a dog with a bone when she wanted to be, nothing would tear her away from this conversation so he might as well go along for the ride.

“He’s nice,” Len said, uncomfortable already.

“Just nice?” Andy asked, sounding disappointed. Lisa raised her hand to placate Andy, though.

“Lenny has a different vocabulary than us when it comes to talking about guys,” Lisa told her and Len rolled his eyes in response to it. “Here, I’ll translate: nice means that he is smoking hot.”

“You’re an idiot,” Len snarked, and Lisa grinned.

“That means I’m right,” she said to Andy, making the woman laugh. It was good to see her carefree for a moment, she was in so much pain all of the time and only getting worse as she continued to not respond to treatment. The doctors had warned them that it wouldn’t be long now until her body gave out. Len found himself hoping for a miracle. It was stupid and naïve, but Andrea was his friend and the mother of his child… he didn’t want her to die.

“Sophie seemed to like him,” And said, looking over at their daughter playing on the swing. It made Len realise the real reason why she wanted to learn about Barry. It wasn’t just gossip for her, she was going to die soon, she needed to make sure Len wasn’t going to be bringing home some bruiser. Len’s relationship with Barry was fresh, so new that he hadn’t even texted the guy yet. But Andy was sharp, and Len supposed that it didn’t really matter whether their relationship grew or not because learning about Barry would help her to piece together what kind of person Len would be interested in bringing home to their daughter after she was gone.

Plus, Barry had already spent an evening with Sophie and, if the TV was to be trusted, that was probably far too soon to have introduced him to Len’s little girl. Not like that introduction could have been helped considering the way that they’d met. But yes, Len understood why Andy would want to know more about Barry and he wasn’t looking at denying her that right.

“Barry is kind and smart,” Len reassured her. “And he’s patient with Sophie too.” And there was so much more that Len had noticed during their one night together, but he figured that these were the characteristics that Andy would be most interested in. Andy nodded happily, seeming to relax a little more again. He wanted to bring back that carefree laugh though, and so he continued. “And, yes, he is also smoking hot. He looks like some sort of a cross between a cherub and a Greek God.”

Len smiled as he succeeded in making Andrea laugh again. She placed her hand on Len’s shoulder and nodded.

“Good, you really need to get laid,” she said, and Len tilted his head in acknowledgement. She patted his shoulder and then reached for her walking stick, using it to leverage herself up onto her feet. Len frowned as he watched her, but he knew better than to offer her his assistance: she was too proud to accept it. Andy excused herself and went back into the house, hobbling as she went. Len hated seeing her in so much pain.

“Kind, patient, smart…” Lisa listed once Andy was out of earshot. “It doesn’t really sound much like your type.”

“Andy is all of those things,” Len rebutted, but Lisa waved away his remark easily.

“Yeah, now that she’s a mum. But I remember what she was like when you two were together: she was hell in high heels. It’s one of the reasons why you liked her,” Lisa said, and Len had to admit that that was true. “So, what gives?”

“Barry’s…” Len paused as he thought of the right words to describe Barry. “He’s powerful too,” Len told her after a short pause. And it was true. Len had originally only flirted with Barry because it was fun. He hadn’t been with anyone in a while and making Barry blush gave him just a little too much entertainment. And Lisa was right, Barry was attractive. Len had thought that maybe he’d get a good fling out of their encounter.

But then he’d talked to Barry and, the more he heard, the more intrigued he got. He’d never expected Barry to be capable of stealing chocolate from someone from right under their nose, or how he pushed back at Len and gave as good as he got when Len was flirting with him, or the power and protectiveness that shone through in his voice sometimes when he spoke.

Barry was like a puzzle, one that Len found himself eager to piece together.

Lisa let it drop, and they fell into an easy silence as they sat together and watched Sophie play on the swing.

[] [] []

Barry was at work when he got the text. His mind was preoccupied with reading the results from the ELISA as he picked it up, and he almost dropped it again instantly.

NEW MESSAGE From: Unknown
Received: 10:25am
Hey. Thanks for showing me and Sophie around the other night. I’d like to see you again. Len

Barry looked over his shoulder nervously as though someone would be able to figure out that Captain Cold had just texted him. Barry quickly and repeatedly tapped his finger on the back of his phone as he stared at the text and wondered how to respond.

He should shut this down before it began. He should tell Len that he wasn’t interested or just flat out not reply. But that was kind of suspicious, right? Len might start thinking too closely about why Barry would just shut off so quickly. Or maybe he’d stop by his house! Now that would be bad. Barry couldn’t let Joe see him!

Before he’d even fully realised that he’d talked himself into it, Barry was typing out a reply and hitting send.

To: Len
Sent: 10:27am
I’d like to see you again too

NEW MESSAGE From: Len
Received: 10:27am
Let’s grab a drink. When are you free?

Barry’s stomach was twisting, and his heart was beating double speed as he responded and arranged their next date.

Oh God... he was going to be in so much trouble if anyone found out about this…

Chapter Text

Len walked into the coffee shop feeling a little nervous, but he tried to shake that off along with the chill from the outside wind. Len hadn’t felt nervous about a date in a long time, and he wasn’t entirely sure why he felt that way now either. Sure, he liked Barry (more than he probably should after having only known him for a short week), but he’d always been able to hold his cool around people he’d liked in the past.

Maybe it was the venue that made this feel different? When he asked to meet someone for a drink, he usually meant at a bar, not at a café. He was out of his comfort zone here. But that was good, right? He wasn’t looking at dating the same type of people anymore. He was looking at dating someone stable and good, and so the café was the perfect setting for that. But it was just so… normal. And Len hadn’t felt normal once in his entire life.

He spotted Barry on the far side of the shop and smiled at him in greeting. Barry smiled back. He looked nervous too, but the kid wore his emotions on his sleeve much more than Len did. It was a sort of ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ thing for Len. He’d needed to be confident and in control and so he’d acted as though he was until one day he just didn’t need to pretend anymore.

Len joined the short queue and ordered a latte. He collected it and then went to join Barry at the corner table that he was sitting at. He put on a smile to hide his nerves as he sat down.

“Hey,” Barry said. He was wearing a navy-blue button-up shirt paired with a thick black jacket, and he was grinning at Len in a way that made Len’s stomach flip. Fuck. He was already so screwed.

“Barry,” Len greeted and took a seat. “You look good,” he said and enjoyed the shy twist to the smile that he got in return. Len started to wonder if Barry had any idea of how good-looking he was. If he did, he certainly didn’t show it.

“You look pretty good yourself,” he said, still looking very nervous. He took a sip of his coffee as though he was trying to bide time as he came up with something to say.

“I’ve never been here before,” Len said casually. He never used to go to the centre of town very often unless he was pulling a heist, but those days were behind him now. It had been months since he’d done a job and he didn’t expect to be robbing anywhere else anytime soon: he was trying his best to keep to the straight and narrow now that he had Sophie to look after.

“Really?” Barry asked, sounding surprised. “This is the best coffee house in the city,” he said.

“You come here a lot, then?”

“Every now and then before work,” Barry shrugged, and Len got a distinct impression that Barry was playing it down. He smiled and took a sip of his latte. Barry was right, it was good. And not as overpriced as the bigger coffee shops either.

“What do you do?” Len asked since the topic of work had already come up. Barry squirmed a little bit which made Len curious.

“I work in science,” he said. “Just… but it’s not that interesting,” he dismissed quickly, and Len frowned.

“I think it is,” he replied, but Barry was shaking his head.

“No, it’s honestly so boring. But what about you? What do you do?” He asked but then instantly looked like he regretted it. Len frowned but decided to let it drop.

“I own a bar,” Len said, and Barry looked surprised as though he was expecting a different answer.

“Really? Where about?”

“Down on Park Street. It’s a bit of a biker bar,” Len explained. He was sure that Barry would have never heard of Saints and Sinners and it was probably better that he never stepped foot in there. So, Len wanted to deter him from the thought of it as soon as possible.

“That’s pretty awesome,” Barry said, he looked more relaxed again now. “How long have you owned it?”

“A few years,” Len shrugged after taking another sip of his coffee. “I used to work there back when it first opened, so I guess I bought it for sentimental reasons more than anything else.”

“I didn’t peg you as the nostalgic type,” Barry said, and Len shrugged. He looked down at his cup momentarily before looking back up into Barry’s eyes.

“I don’t think anyone can truly say that there isn’t at least one thing that makes them nostalgic,” he admitted. Working at that bar had been a good part of his life. He had been barely 18, just escaped Lewis’ grasp, and desperate to get some money together so that he could go back for Lisa. It had been his first taste of freedom and the first place where he had been treated like an actual human being instead of the dirt on someone else’s shoe.

“I guess that’s true,” Barry nodded. He wrapped both of his hands around his cup and leant forward on his elbows a little more. “So, is that what you’ve always wanted to do? Own a business?”

“Not exactly. When I was a kid, I think wanted to be president,” Len admitted, huffing a laugh at the memory and Barry smiled too.

“Quite the career change,” Barry remarked, and Len shrugged.

“It was probably for the better. My entire platform was based on the idea of making a monthly bank holiday where ice cream for dinner was a legal necessity in every house,” he said, and Barry barked out a surprised laugh.

“You have my vote,” he joked, and Len nodded graciously.

“So, what about you? Have you always wanted to be a scientist?” Len asked.

“Yeah, sort of,” he said and then drank the last swig of his coffee. “I actually wanted to be a doctor, like my dad.” Len pursed his lips slightly as he recalled what Barry had told him about his father the night they had met.

“Henry Allen?” He asked, and Barry frowned.

“Yeah…” he answered slowly. “You know my dad?”

Of course, he did. Everyone who had been to Iron Heights knew the Doc, and most people believed him about his innocence: the man didn’t have a bad bone in his body, not even after all that time behind bars. But Len couldn’t tell Barry that.

“No, I just remember reading the story,” Len said swiftly. “I have an eidetic memory,” he said though it was actually true, probably the result of being hit one too many times around the head as a kid.

“Seriously? That’s amazing!” Barry said, altogether dropping their previous conversation. And that was always the reaction that he got… everyone always thought that Len’s memory was a gift, but Len only thought of it as a curse. He would rather be able to forget his troubled past completely than be able to remember it with such vivid detail.

But Len did what he always did: he just smiled and acted like it was all okay as Barry went on about how much he would have killed for an eidetic memory back when he was writing his thesis.

“But what about your family?” Barry asked. “You know all about mine by now, after all. Is it just you and Sophie or…?” Barry let the question drift off for Len to pick up.

“My parents died when I was young. A car crash,” Len said. Who knew, maybe it was true for his mother? He hadn’t seen or heard from her since Lewis went to prison, the first time. But as for Lewis himself… he was as good as dead to Len.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Barry said, but Len just shook his head.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said and took his last mouthful of coffee before he continued. “But I do have a younger sister, Lisa. She’s the bane of my existence,” he laughed. “But at least she’s happy to babysit." It was about then that Len began to notice the sudden influx of customers. He tried not to let that bother him, but he just didn’t like crowded spaces. It wasn’t so much a claustrophobia thing, more of a ‘not liking the thought of someone listening in on his conversation’ kind of thing.

But Barry too was looking up now at the afternoon rush of people flooding in through the doors.

“Do, you want to get some fresh air?” Barry asked, and Len was all too happy to agree as he got up and grabbed his coat from the back of his chair.

He let Barry lead him out of the coffee shop and then they wandered together in no specific direction as they continued to talk.

“Have you ever been abroad?” Len asked

“A few times, when I was younger. But not for a long time now. I guess I just like it here,” Barry shrugged. “I don’t feel the need to get away from it all. What about you?”

“I used to travel a lot, actually. I never really stayed in one place for too long.”

“But not anymore? Why?” Barry asked, and Len smiled.

“I have a daughter.”

“Right,” Barry nodded. “Of course. I guess that having a kid changes things.”

“More than you’d think,” Len agreed with a sly smile.

“You have a good relationship with Sophie’s mother, though?” Barry asked, and Len nodded.

“I do,” he said. “If I’m being honest, I didn’t actually know that Sophie existed until earlier this year,” he admitted. Barry was going to find out one way or another if they kept dating and he’d surely find it weird that Len never told him about it. “I never thought that I wanted kids, and Andy knew that. She thought she was saving us all a lot of pain if I just didn’t know.”

Len paused as Barry took his hand while they walked, looking down at their entwined fingers briefly. His chest stung at the thought of everything that he had missed out on in Sophie’s life. When Andrea had first told him about Sophie, he’d been terrified about being a father. He couldn’t stop thinking that he might turn out to be as shitty as Lewis was. But he soon realised that his fears were in vain. He loved Sophie more than he thought it was possible to love another human being.

“I don’t blame her, though. She doesn’t have enough time left for me to waste it being angry.”

“That must have been a difficult thing to forgive,” Barry said as he gave Len’s hand a quick squeeze. Len thought about it and shrugged.

“At first… yes. But Andy only did what she thought was best for our kid and that’s all I can really ask for from her.”

They kept walking, going nowhere in particular, and their topics turned to lighter subjects like favourite bands and films. Barry never let go of Len’s hand. Eventually, they stumbled across a hotdog vendor. Len didn’t realise how long they had been walking for or how hungry he now was until he could smell that wonderfully greasy scent. They had to let go of each other’s hands and bought as much food as they could carry, eating it as they walked home.

“What?” Len asked when he saw Barry grinning down into his hotdog.

“This is a very unconventional second date,” Barry said, lifting his street food pointedly. But he didn’t sound disappointed, so Len thought that everything was still okay.

“Well, I’m a very unconventional person,” Len responded, and Barry nodded.

“I know… I like that.”

Eventually, they were walking down Barry’s street, the food now completely demolished – quite literally in Barry’s case. Len didn’t understand how Barry could eat like that and stay so thin. When he’d said that out loud, Barry had just shrugged and explained it away as “witchcraft”.

“Do you want to come inside?” Barry offered, hooking his thumb over his shoulder and at the house.

“For coffee?” Len teased, his eyes dipping to roam quickly over Barry’s body, enjoying watching him squirm and swallow thickly.

“I mean… you can never have too much coffee,” Barry said, smiling softly.

“Hmmm,” Len thought and nodded. “You’re right about that.” Barry let out a small breath and reached for Len’s hand once more. His palm was warm but dry against Len’s skin, and Len allowed himself to be towed towards the front door. His body began to stir as it caught up to the situation and he could feel his heart rate pick up pace.

Barry quickly unlocked the door and pulled Len inside. Len was surprised by the strength of the action but was all too happy to stumble forward against Barry. He brought up his spare hand as he did so to cup Barry’s cheek and moved swiftly into the kiss. He felt Barry smile against his lips and he dropped Len’s hand to instead wrap his arms around Len’s waist. He pushed against Barry and was surprised, but no less interested, when Barry flipped the situation and pushed back. Soon he was pinned against a wall with Barry’s leg between his thighs.

He gasped at the suddenness of the movement and Barry used that moment to lick into his mouth. Len smiled against the kiss and pulled Barry closer, as close as they could possibly get to one another, and enjoyed the feeling of Barry’s body pressed tight against his own. He had to admit, he was usually the one taking control and pushing his partners against the nearest flat surface when it came to making-out and sex; but on occasion, he also enjoyed when it turned out like this.

He was turned on by Barry’s power and how willing he was to take what he needed. And paired with that good heart that Len had seen from Barry, he was confident that Barry would never push him too far. It was an odd feeling to be this sure about a man he’d basically just met, but Len was certain on it.

Barry’s hands began to roam around Len’s torso, and Len gave a quick jut of his hips up against Barry, hearing the man gasp a deep and tantalising moan. Barry’s hand left Len’s waist and found purchase against the wall next to Len’s head. He’d somehow managed to knock over an umbrella stand as he did so, but they paid no attention to the large bang it made.

“Barry?” Someone called out further inside the house. “You home?” Both of their eyes shot open quickly in surprise.

“Iris!” Barry yelped, he pulled back from Len and straightened himself up… looking very much as guilty as a child caught with a hand in the cookie jar. With a laugh, Len realised that they hadn’t even gotten around to closing the front door yet and he moved around Barry to do just that.

That was about the time that a familiar face appeared from around the corner. Iris looked highly amused as she noticed the state of their clothes paired with Barry’s guilty expression.

“Am I interrupting something?” She asked, and Barry was quick to shake his head.

“Ah, no. No, we, err, nope,” Barry stumbled through, and Len laughed. How could this blundering mess of an adult be the same man that was confidently pushing Len against a wall and sticking his tongue in his mouth only a few seconds earlier? Barry Allen really was a puzzle. “I didn’t know you were here,” Barry finally said which made Len smile. This man was an idiot.

“Clearly,” Iris said, shaking her head. “And Dad and Eddie will be here soon too so you might want to take that,” she waved her hand in their general direction, “somewhere else.”

There was a visible shift in the room suddenly as Barry became tense. The smile fell from Len’s lips almost instantly as he studied his date. His first thought was that Barry’s foster father and whoever this Eddie was were homophobic or abusive. His hard life and even harder childhood had conditioned him to always assume the worst of anyone and any situation. But Iris was still smiling and amused, and Barry didn’t show any of the classic signs of abuse… so if not that, then what would cause Barry to react like this so suddenly at the drop of their names?

Barry turned around to look at Len; he was smiling, but Len was sure that it was fake.

“Maybe we should pick this up another time?” Barry suggested. Was his voice a little strained or was Len just imagining it?

“That sounds good to me,” Len replied smoothly with a smirk. He allowed his eyes to trail down Barry’s body suggestively, but it was a calculated gesture. Something was off about this and Len didn’t want to let on that he knew. But that didn’t mean that he couldn’t also enjoy the blush that formed across Barry’s cheeks.

Iris rolled her eyes.

“It was good to see you again, Len,” she said, and Len nodded in agreement. “How is your little girl?”

“Well my sister is babysitting her today, so she’s probably eating her way into a sugar coma right now,” Len joked, and Iris smiled.

“You should bring her around some time,” Iris suggested. “My dad is great with kids, and I think he’s a little sad that Barry and I are all grown up now so he can’t spoil us anymore,” she joked. “I’m sure once he met Sophie you would have a babysitter for life.”

“I’m not so sure that’s a good idea,” Barry was quick to say before Len could respond. And there it was again, that tension emanating off of him. It was visible in his eyes now too… there was something that Barry was keeping from Len, and it had to do with Iris’ father. But whatever it was, Iris was none the wiser of it. “I just mean…” Barry said as he realised that he’d drawn both Len’s and Iris’ gaze. “We’ve only just met, you know, and I think that it’s just a bit too soon,” he said.

Len nodded, but his eyes were still sharp on Barry, watching for every twitch. What Barry said was right, it was too soon to be meeting the parent’s, but the way he said it was as though he was coming up with an excuse and alarm bells were now ringing in Len’s head.

“Right…” Len said. “Anyway, I better be going.” He leant forward to kiss Barry’s cheek goodbye and turned to smile at Iris. Barry opened the door for him, the tension dissipating quickly into what appeared to be relief. Len smiled and left.

But he didn’t go home.

He didn’t know what Barry was keeping from him, but he was damn well going to find out. So, he went to his closest safe house instead. He hadn’t used them in months, so he was careful when entering to make sure that the place was still secure. But he saw nothing out of place and no signs that anyone had been here recently.

He slipped inside and quickly found one of his old laptops. It had a system downloaded onto it which was similar to what you could find in a police station; it could run a background check on pretty much any adult in Central City. It was a comprehensive tool which came in useful from time to time, though it only showed you the basic information… if he wanted any more detail, then he’d have to hire someone to look into it.

Len hoped it wouldn’t come to that this time.

He typed in Barry’s name and address, and then he waited. The laptop was cheap and old, and so it took its time. But he wouldn’t dare put a programme like this onto any computer he had in his own home, or on anything which could be traced back to him in any way; it was too incriminating and not exactly a legal tool.

Len tried not to get impatient as he waited, but his mind was still swimming with the worst scenarios. What if Barry was being abused, but Iris just didn’t know about it? What if this Joe was some kind of predator? What if Sophie was at risk?

Len looked at his phone and was overcome with the urge to call his sister and check-in. But he managed to calm himself before he did something irrational. Lisa could handle herself and keep Sophie safe if it came to that. And if Len rang her now but it turned out that there was nothing wrong with Barry or Joe in the first place then Lisa might get some idea in her head to confront them. No, he rationalised that it was better to just wait for the facts before he acted.

Len clicked on the programme the second that it had finished its search.

 

 

Bartholomew Henry Allen
D.O.B. March 14, 1989
Known Alias: Barry Allen
Spent convictions: 0
Unspent convictions: 0
Police cautions: 0
Police reprimands: 0
Police final warnings: 0
Previous Address: 3
Current Address: 1
Employment History: 4
Public Record: 0
Hospital Record: 1
Rental Information: 0
Hire Purchases and Conditional Sales: 0
Electoral Register: Yes

 

 

At first glance, everything looked normal. Barry had no criminal record of any kind. Len clicked on his current address and confirmed that it was the same house that he had visited twice before. But he wasn’t satisfied yet. He moved on then to expand Barry’s employment history. Len stiffened when he saw that Barry was currently working for the CCPD. Could this be why Barry was acting so strange? Did he know who Len was?

Len went back and typed another name into the programme. He didn’t have the last name for Joe, but he had a home address, and that should be enough. He could feel the tension in his body as he sat still and watched the programme slowly work its magic. Eventually, it came up with an answer.

 

 

Joseph West
D.O.B. January 18, 1969
Known Alias: Joe West
Spent convictions: 0
Unspent convictions: 0
Police cautions: 0
Police reprimands: 0
Police final warnings: 0
Previous Address: 6
Current Address: 1
Employment History: 12
Public Record: 1
Hospital Record: 1
Rental Information: 0
Hire Purchases and Conditional Sales: 2
Electoral Register: Yes

 

 

Joe West.

Joe West!

As in the Detective Joe West who was hell-bent on arresting Len and making his life a living hell. Len clicked on the man’s current occupation, but he already had all of the proof he needed: Barry did know who Len really was. He knew that Len was a thief and a murderer… that he was Captain Cold. He had probably known it this whole time since the moment they met on Halloween night.

So why was he dating Len instead of turning him into the cops?

There was only one answer that Len could think of. Barry was tricking him. This whole thing was a trap. Barry had to have some sort of ulterior motive.

Chapter Text

Barry stared at himself in the mirror and frowned. His tie was a little crooked. Barry tried to adjust it, but it just looked worse. He tried again but still to no success. He pulled the tie off over his head and threw it back on the bed. But the outfit didn’t look right without the tie… the shirt was too bland. Another shirt then! Maybe the red one…? No, scratch that, he should stay away from the colour red while around Len. He didn’t want to give him any clues, no matter how small, that he was the Flash.

Barry sighed and picked out a grey crewneck knitted shirt instead. It wasn’t quite a sweater, but it was thick and warm enough to wear in winter. Barry frowned a little longer at his reflection. He looked fine, but that wasn’t what he was worried about. He’d excepted now that he was really dating Leonard Snart. That was a thing that was happening. And he was happy too. But…

But he just kept wondering how it could work. He was the Flash dating an ex-convict. Sure, Len seemed to have changed his life around over the past six months, and Barry thoroughly believed that everyone deserved a second chance. But what if it was just a temporary thing and Len decided to start stealing stuff again? Could he deal with that disappointment? And would Barry be able to trust him with his secret?

If this was going to be a long-term relationship, then he was going to want to tell Len who he was at some point. But would Len be able to accept Barry’s secret so easily? Just because he wasn’t an active thief anymore didn’t mean that he trusted the law or any well-meaning vigilantes. Barry hadn’t read Len’s file since the Kahndaq Dynasty diamond case, though he had definitely been tempted to over this past week, and so he didn’t remember much about it. But he remembered that Len had been in the system since he was a kid. He had lived his whole life on the other side of the law, so maybe he wouldn’t be so happy to accept a superhero as his boyfriend?

Barry couldn’t overthink this, though, because the truth was, he would never know what would happen until he just went for it. Maybe he and Len would be together for years to come. Or perhaps they would crash and burn right away. Barry hoped it was the former…

Eventually, Barry nodded at his reflection and headed downstairs. Joe was down there, but he didn’t know anything about Barry’s date, and Barry hoped it would stay that way. He wasn’t dressed all that different than normal, but he was wearing a little more hair product and his good aftershave rather than the cheap bottle he used for his every day. But, with any luck, Joe wouldn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

Now, Barry wasn’t usually a terrific liar, and he didn’t really expect today to be any different, so he planned to be out of this house as soon as possible. He would say hi and then bye. That was it!

“Hey, Joe,” Barry called as he walked downstairs into the living area where Joe was watching a football match. Good, he was distracted. That would make this a little easier. “I’m going out with some friends,” He said, and Joe nodded, not turning to look at him as he watched the game on TV.

“Sure, have fun,” Joe waved away. Huh, that was easy. Barry hadn’t needed to have read that whole Wiki How article on how to lie after all.

They were having dinner tonight at Len’s place, but Barry ran over to the corner shop to grab a bottle of wine before heading there. He didn’t know what to bring really, so he just picked whatever looked decent and wasn’t too expensive. Then he walked as calmly as he could right over to Len’s house on Crescent Avenue.

Len opened the door only a few seconds after Barry had knocked, and Barry leant over to kiss his boyfriend hello. Len smiled in return and opened the door wider to silently invite him in. Barry glanced around a little as he entered Len’s house, seeing it for the first time: the door opened onto a hallway. To the left, there was an archway leading in the kitchen diner, to the right the living room, and straight ahead there was a U-shaped staircase. Barry shrugged his jacket off and hung it up on the hooks next to the door. The place had clearly been decorated recently as the smell of fresh paint still clung to the air. But it wasn’t too strong that it was overpowering.

Len led him into the kitchen diner, and Barry noticed a few trinkets and decorations scattered around, but the place was so pristine that it looked like it could be a showroom.

“Make yourself at home,” Len encouraged as he opened a cupboard to get a couple of plates. Barry noticed the small plastic set that was clearly for Sophie on a higher shelf and smiled to himself. Len had told Barry that Sophie stayed at her mother’s house, and that was probably why the place was still so neat. But he could imagine how much different the house would be is Sophie lived here and it made him laugh to picture Len’s exasperation as he would chase his daughter through the house with a mop for dragging dirt in. “What?” Len asked, noticing Barry’s grin, but Barry just shook his head.

“Nothing,” he said. Len rolled his eyes and returned to what he was doing. He moved to open the oven and Barry was hit by the scent of salted meat mixed with citrus and various spices which he couldn’t quite decipher. It smells amazing. “What are we having?”

“Prosciutto-wrapped chicken with spiced risotto,” Len said after placing an oven dish onto the counter. Barry had to suck in his stomach to stop it from growling.

“That sounds like heaven.”

“Well, that is the secret ingredient,” Len said seriously, and Barry huffed a laugh. “Do you want to open the wine?” Len asked, gesturing to the corkscrew hanging from a rack beside Barry. “The glasses are in the cabinet above you,” he said as Barry reached for the wine. He poured them both a drink, taking a sip from his and nodding: it was decent. Barry leant back and watched Len begin to plate out their food. “So, where do you work?” Len asked, and Barry felt his stomach drop a little bit.

“I’m a scientist, remember,” Barry said. It wasn’t a lie. Except that it was.

“Yeah, I meant which lab do you work at?” Fuck. Why was Len asking questions about this? Not good. Very, very not good.

“I, er… Mercury,” Barry stammered out. His first thought had been to say STAR Labs but he’d just about managed to stop himself. A, people weren’t really supposed to be working there still. And B, Len had met Cisco before so who knew how much he knew about STAR Lab’s involvement with the Flash?

“Oh, really?” Len asked. He put the kitchen spoon he was holding down and turned to face Barry full on. “I have a friend who works there. What project are you involved in?”

Fuck, fuck, fuck!

This was not happening.

Barry’s mind was drawing a complete blank. He took a sip of his wine to buy himself a little more time before answering, but that didn’t change the fact that he currently had no idea what Mercury Labs were testing right now.

Barry looked up at Len, a nervous smile on his face. Len was casually leaning back against the counter and tapping his finger gently on the countertop. He was the perfect picture of cool. Except, the more that Barry looked, the more forced it appeared. It was the eyes that gave it away. Len’s eyes usually had a lot of emotion or humour in them but, right now, they were blank… one might even describe them as cold.

Which meant… Len already knew.

Barry put the wine glass back down beside him and took a moment to think about how to deal with this.

“Barry?” Len asked. He’d dropped his pretence now wholly. His body was tense, and his voice was sharper and angrier.

“You know where I work, Len,” Barry said. It wasn’t a question.

“I do.”

“How?”

“I don’t really think that’s important,” Len said, pushing himself off of the counter and stalking closer to Barry. “You know who I am, Barry,” Len drawled, his tone biting as he said Barry’s name. “And I know who you are.” Well, not quite… or God, Barry hoped that Len didn’t know it all. If Len ever managed to figure out that Barry was the Flash, then it would not end well. “So, why don’t we cut the crap? What are you after?”

Barry just blinked.

“After?” Barry repeated. Did Len think Barry was using him for something?

“Drop the act already,” Len drawled, slow and deliberate. “What are you after?” He was standing so close now that he leant forward a little more, placing his hands on the countertop either side of Barry’s waist and effectively caging him in. Barry guessed it was supposed to be an intimidation technique, but instead it was turning Barry on. Fuck. Len was so damn close that Barry could feel his body heat.

“I’m not after anything. I just like you, okay?” Barry said, eyes flickering down to Len’s lips and then back up to his piercing blue eyes. He swallowed thickly as Len just stared at him. It was like he was sucking all of the oxygen out of the room. “I shouldn’t, but I do.” Len said nothing and they just stared at each other silently as the seconds ticked by. Barry’s heart was racing, his knees going a little weak, and he could feel his dick reacting to the proximity and tension. Len seemed to notice it too as he glanced down momentarily. Barry was blushing by the time that Len made eye contact again, his face burning with heat.

But Len surprised him by closing the gap between them completely, pressing up flat against Barry and seizing his lips with his own. Barry gasped into the kiss but pushed back instantly. He wanted Len so badly. He wrapped his arms around Len’s neck as his thigh found a place in between Len’s legs. He was pressed up forcefully against the cupboards behind him as Len’s tongue entered his mouth. Barry groaned and rutted his hips forward. Soon though, Len was readjusting them and picking Barry up by his waist, making Barry gasp and pull back, hooking his legs around Len instinctively.

Len wasted no time and carried Barry to the table, laying him down on it and crawling on top of him. It was probably the hottest thing that anyone had ever done, and Barry was eager to continue. He grabbed the collar of Len’s shirt with both hands and pulled the man down to meet his lips once more.

Barry was so hard. Fuck, he needed to calm down. He was going to come way too soon if he didn’t pace himself.

But Len’s hands were slipping under his shirt, and it felt amazing. Barry lifted up just enough, and their kiss momentarily broke while Len pulled the shirt off over Barry’s head. And then they were kissing again. But Barry wanted, needed, more! His fingers found the buttons on Len’s shirt, and he started to pop them as quickly as he could. Len didn’t even break the kiss again as he struggled out of it and threw it on the floor to meet Barry’s.

And then there was skin to skin contact as their bare torsos pressed against each other. Len ground down against Barry, and he gave a little whimper. Barry’s hands found Len’s pants then, struggling to unzip them and push them down his thighs along with his briefs. But Barry’s efforts were rewarded by the feel of Len’s hot, throbbing, naked cock against Barry’s thigh. Len’s hips started grinding against Barry and Barry knew he was on the verge of coming.

Desperately, he tried to think about something other than the literal wet dream on top of him. Len’s hands found Barry’s hair and his lips found his collarbone, kissing and biting at it with reverence.

Dead puppies, dead puppies, dead puppies.

He was trying so hard to keep himself from tumbling over that edge and shooting his load into his pants, but Len was making things incredibly difficult for him. Len’s landline started ringing then, but Len made no move to answer it as he continued to assault Barry’s neck and chest with his wet hot kisses, each one of them sending a shiver down Barry’s spine. He was getting fed up of being the only one with clothes still on, and Barry decided that if he came early, then he came early. It might hurt his ego, but at least he would feel the press of Leonard Snart’s erect dick directly against his skin. And that was worth all of the embarrassment in the world.

Barry pushed his hand in between their bodies and just about managed to pop the button on his jeans before the ringing stopped, and the call went to voicemail.

Hi, Leonard Mendoza? This is Melissa calling from Central City Hospital,” the message machine picked up, and suddenly Len was pulling away. Barry blinked up at him as he tried to understand why Len wasn’t kissing him anymore. Then his eyes wandered down, and he got is first look at Len naked. He was magnificent with his kiss bitten lips, wild eyes, the tattoos covering his torso and arms, and the large angry dick standing tall and proud. Barry wanted to lick it. Barry reached for Len’s hips, but Len wasn’t paying any attention to him anymore. “I’m calling because your name is down as the next of kin for Ms Andrea Mendoza.”

Len was off of Barry and rushing to pick up the phone so quickly that Barry’s head spun.

“This is Leonard Mendoza,” Len said into the receiver and Barry frowned. Mendoza? Where did that come from? Barry was going to ask, but then his brain finally clicked into gear as Len said the next words: “how’s Andy? Is she okay?”

Andy? Andy was Sophie’s mother, she was dying of cancer. If this call was about her then…

“I’ll be right there,” Len said into the phone and then hung up. His face was emotionless once he turned around again and so Barry knew that it wasn’t good news. “I have to go,” was all Len said. He had already pulled his pants back up and was moving to grab his shirt off of the floor. Barry did the same. He wanted to ask questions, but he didn’t know if he had the right to. He pulled his shirt back on and turned the oven off for Len as Len searched for his car keys.

“Do you want some company?” Barry offered.

“I’m fine,” was all Len said in response and Barry nodded. He wanted to ask if they were okay now, but he knew that it wasn’t the time for it so he supposed he would just have to wait and see. Barry lingered for a moment as Len finally found his keys and then he grabbed his coat from the hook in the hallway.

“Call me if you need anything,” Barry said, and he waited for Len to nod before slipping out of the door. He pulled his coat on and zipped it as he walked down Len’s drive. He’d only actually made it to the house over when he heard Len’s front door open and close again, and he turned to see Len rushing towards his car and driving away. Barry couldn’t even begin to imagine what he was going through.

[] [] []

Andrea was dead.

Her caregiver had gone to visit her yesterday afternoon like she’d done every day for the past year, and Andy had been confused and drowsy. The nurse had called the ambulance and Andy had been admitted to the hospital and given oxygen, but it was soon apparent that she wouldn’t last the night. So, the nurses had rung Len.

He’d raced over there as fast as he could, pausing only to call Lisa, and found Sophie curled up in a ball and weeping into one of the nurse’s shoulders. She’d cried out for him the moment that she’d seen him and the first thing he had done was pick her up and hold her close. He was always good at hiding his emotions but seeing his daughter crying like this brought tears to his own eyes too. And the worse part was that Sophie didn’t understand what was going on right now. She was crying because the strangers were keeping her from her mum… she didn’t understand fully what it meant when the nurses told her that Andy was dying.

He’d asked for information on Andy and had been taken to her room. He’d stood at the door and handed Sophie off to one of the nurses again, even has his little girl yelled and struggled and clung to his arm. Walking away while she was like that was the hardest thing Len had ever had to do. But once he’d opened the door to Andy’s room, he knew he’d made the right choice. Sophie shouldn’t see her mother like this.

Andy was lying in the hospital bed, completely still and unmoving. Her skin was pale and cold when Len went to hold her hand. Len would have thought she was dead if it wasn’t for the heart rate monitor attached to her finger telling him otherwise. Her eyes were dull, and her breathing was shallow. She made eye contact with Len, but she didn’t say anything when he spoke to her.

After a moment, the door opened again, and a doctor walked in. She explained to Len that there was nothing more they could do as Andy fell in and out of consciousness. It was like a stab to the chest. He said goodbye to Andy, but he didn’t know if she could hear or understand him. And when Lisa arrived, she did the same thing.

Lisa left Len alone in the room as she went to look after Sophie. And Len spent the next hour holding Andy’s hand. Some times she would open her eyes and look at Len, but she never spoke. And so, Len sat in silence, the only noise in the room coming from the beeping of the heart rate monitor. He stayed that way until Andy flatlined. And that was it, she was gone. His dear friend, the mother of his child, dead. He stayed still, holding her hand and looking into her empty eyes right up until the nurses came to turn off the monitor. One of them touched Len comfortingly on the shoulder before they left him alone again.

The room was definingly silent now. Len’s breathing became ragged and his vision blurred as he looked at his friend lying in the hospital bed. He’d hoped that they’d had more time. He wished that Sophie didn’t have to suffer this way. But Andy wouldn’t be there the next time that Sophie fell over and grazed her knee. She wouldn’t be there for Sophie’s first swimming lesson. She wouldn’t be there when her first tooth fell out. She wouldn’t be there for her first crush or her first broken heart. Sophie would never hold her mother’s hand again or hear her laugh.

Andy was gone. And Sophie was so young that in a few years she wouldn’t even remember what her mother looked like. But Len would never forget the strong, brave woman that Andy was. And he’d try his best to not let Sophie forget.

Eventually, Len stood up and let go of Andy’s hand. He closed her eyes, kissed her head, and walked away.

[] [] []

Sophie had fallen asleep at the hospital. So, after Andy died, Len had just put her in the car and drove her home. He thought about taking her to his place, but Sophie hadn’t slept at his yet and Len didn’t want to spook her if she woke up in the middle of the night. Lisa went back with him. She took the bed in the spare bedroom while Len crashed on the couch. Or tried to, at least. But Len had too much to do, and he couldn’t shut his mind off.

So instead, he grabbed Andy’s laptop and started looking up funeral arrangements. Andy had told him that she’d wanted to be buried rather than cremated, but she hadn’t had a preference for where. She’d joked once about going to pick out a spot, but the reality of that had been too morbid. So, it fell to Len to make sure she had a nice final resting place.

Before he knew it hours had passed, and Sophie was waking up. Len heard the floorboards creak in her room, so he quickly closed the lid of his laptop and moved into the kitchen to start breakfast. He had premade some pancake batter a couple of hours ago, so he took it out of the fridge and started heating up a pan on the stove. Len didn’t know what his daughter liked on her pancakes so he took out Nutella, jam, and all of the syrup he could find in the cupboards and put them on the kitchen table.

He’d just got the first pancake onto a plate when he heard Sophie behind him.

“Daddy?” She asked, her voice was sleepy and confused. Len smiled at her and put the plate on the table.

“Hey, Pumpkin,” he said softly. Len’s heart was racing in his chest as he looked at his little girl. They had been trying to prepare her for this day for months, but she was just too young to really comprehend why Mummy would be going away. She was a smart girl, but even last night she just hadn’t quite understood what was going on.

Sophie sat on her stool and looked down at her pancake, but she didn’t touch it.

“Where’s my mummy?” She asked quietly, and Len’s heart felt like it was breaking in his chest. He turned the stove down low and removed the pan from it before sitting down next to his daughter.

“Remember how we told you that Mummy was sick? And that’s why she couldn’t always play, and you had to be gentle with her and not hug her too tight?” Len asked. Fuck. He had spent many nights looking up how to break the news of a parent’s death to a young child. But he still felt wholly unprepared, and none of it was making this moment easier. “Well, Mummy got really sick last night. And she’s not going to be coming home.”

“Why?” Sophie asked, she still only looked confused.

“Because… she died last night,” he said. The words were lost on her. “That means that her body stopped working.”

“When’s she coming back?” Sophie asked, and Len shook his head as he took Sophie’s hand.

“She’s not coming back, Sweetie. She’s gone to a better place,” Len said automatically and then cursed himself for it. He was supposed to be avoiding vague statements like that. “And by that, I mean she’s gone to heaven. It’s a happy place that good people go to when they die. But you can’t visit it when you’re alive.”

Len wasn’t the most religious of people, but it was definitely easier to tell Sophie that her mum was living with a magic man in the clouds than that she just didn’t exist anymore.

“But I want to see her,” Sophie complained.

“And I bet she wishes she could see you too,” Len said.

“Then why isn’t she here?” Sophie starting shouting, getting a little hysterical. Len swallowed around the lump in his throat. He tried to pull his daughter into a hug, but she pushed him away and scrambled off the chair.

Len tried not to feel hurt at her rejection. He knew that she might react this way. It was normal for her to pull away or get angry.

I wanna see Mummy!” Sophie screamed, and Len was at a loss for words. He didn’t know how to comfort his own daughter. Len heard a noise behind him and looked over his shoulder to see that Lisa was standing in the kitchen doorway. But she looked just as lost for words as Len was.

“I know you do,” Len said, he got up off his seat and started creeping closer to his daughter. “I wish I could see her too.”

“No, you don’t!” Sophie screamed and fell to the floor in tears. And then suddenly, it was as though something had snapped inside Sophie. One second, she was his crying daughter. And then the next, her eyes were glowing a bright blue, and there was mist seeping from her hands. When she fell to the floor, the tiles beneath her turned to solid ice at her touch.

Len’s initial reaction was to grab Sophie and pulled her into his arms, which he did. But she was cold. Her body felt like a giant ice cube, and Len hissed in pain as she buried her head into his neck and cried. But he didn’t pull away. He held her close and rocked her back and forth as he stared at Lisa with wide, scared eyes.

Chapter Text

Len held Sophie through her tears and, when she was all cried-out, he sat her in front of the TV with a warm blanket and her breakfast on her lap. It took him and Lisa a moment to realise that the reason the TV wouldn’t turn on was that Sophie’s sudden outburst of powers had blown a few fuses in the house. Once that was dealt with, though, and he was sure that his daughter was calm again, Len took a moment to retreat back into the kitchen. He unbuttoned his shirt, realising he still hadn’t changed yet since before his date with Barry last night. Maybe he would send Lisa over to his place to grab him some spare clothes.

Len winced as he peeled the shirt from his body. He heard Lisa gasp beside him and looked down to see two pink blisters the size and shape of Sophie’s hands across his chest. And, from the way his back stung, there were probably several more there too.

“Shit,” Lisa whispered, grabbing Len by the arm and towing him towards the kitchen sink. Len didn’t even try to pull out of her grip and just went along with her numbly. The blister under his left collarbone was getting really itchy, and it was taking all of Len’s willpower not to scratch at it. Lisa grabbed a clean kitchen cloth and ran it under warm water for a moment. She rang it out over the sink before gently dabbing it against Len’s cold burns.

Len flinched away at the first press from the damp towel. But then he just gritted his teeth and endured it.

“This isn’t good, Lenny,” Lisa said, and Len just glared at her. No shit this wasn’t good. “What are we going to do?”

“I don’t know.”

“The first time you’ve admitted that you don’t know something and I can’t even enjoy it,” Lisa muttered to herself, earning a glare from Len. “We know of one person who could help,” she eventually said, but Len was already shaking his head.

“No. Absolutely not. We’re not handing my daughter over to the Flash,” he said, angry that Lisa would even suggest such a thing. “You’ve heard the rumours.”

“Yeah, I’ve also heard the rumour that you’re straight, and we both know that isn’t true,” she replied, but Len wasn’t going to be swayed by her. Too many metas went up against the Flash and then mysteriously disappeared. God only knows what happened to them, whether they were alive or dead, because they certainly never made it to a jail cell. The Flash may be a hero to the regular folk of Central City, but his name was feared by the metahumans, both civilians and villains alike. Sophie might only be 5, but she was also Captain Cold’s daughter, and that went against her. Who knew what the Flash was capable of?

“I’m not taking the chance with my daughter’s life,” he said, leaving no room for argument. He pushed Lisa’s hand away from where she was still attending to his cold burns and then shrugged his shirt back on. “We’re just going to have to deal with this ourselves.” He moved to the doorway as he buttoned his shirt back up, watching Sophie sitting on the couch and cuddling her Olaf snowman teddy. He could only wonder what was going through her mind right now.

“Well, one good thing came from this, at least,” Lisa as she moved to stand next to him. “With those ice powers, at least now we know for sure that she’s your daughter.”

“That’s not funny.”

“It’s a little funny.”

[] [] []

Barry woke up early. Too early. Last night’s date had been a disaster, and he’d been left feeling unsure about where he and Len stood. He wanted answers, but he knew that Len was going through a difficult time, and Barry wouldn’t exactly be a top priority for him right now.

So instead of texting, he got up and got ready for the day. He’d have to keep himself busy if he wanted to keep his mind off of Len and since he’d booked the day off of work due to last night’s date that meant he would just have to spend a little longer at STAR Labs instead. Though that wasn’t exactly ideal either. He’d started to wonder lately whether something might be off about Wells. He hadn’t told anyone this yet though, he had so little evidence and he didn’t want to accuse his mentor of something just because of one odd moment. It was just… the way Wells had described phasing to Barry… he could have sworn that Wells was talking from experience and it unsettled Barry.

But it was stupid, right? Sure, his gut instincts were usually right… but was this a gut instinct? Or was he just being swayed by other people? After finding out that Joe suspected Wells and then that the guy Iris worked with suspected him too for something else… it was just on Barry’s mind, was all. And yeah, it was a little weird that multiple highly praised professionals were suspicious of Harrison Wells… but, hey, Joe had been wrong before! Case and point: Henry Allen. Joe had been adamant that Barry’s dad was guilty, but he was wrong. And Mason Bridge? Iris might look up to him, but Barry didn’t even know the guy. Why should he hold his word above anyone else’s? And clearly, the guy didn’t think it was that important since he had up and left Central to pursue another story a few weeks ago.

So, no… Barry wasn’t going to say anything about Wells. He just wished he could get rid of the uneasy feeling in his gut so simply.

When he got to the lab, he barely had time to catch up on everything he’d missed last night while he’d been with Len before Felicity and her new boyfriend showed up asking for help with the Atom suit. Cisco was thrilled at the idea and got to work straight away. Felicity, seeming to recognise that something was a little off about Barry, took him to get coffee while Ray and Cisco worked.

“You know, I left Starling City to get away from the mood and brood,” Felicity said while they were picking up their orders at Jitters and walking towards an empty table. “But it looks like it followed me here.”

“I… don’t know what you’re talking about,” Barry replied, though he could feel his stomach twist and his heartrate pick up with worry.

“Barry, I have been through enough with you to know when you’re holding something back. Is this because I told Ray your secret? Because he is trustworthy, Barry, he wants to help people just like you.”

“I know,” Barry said. He didn’t want Felicity to feel bad about that. He knew that she wouldn’t tell anyone Barry’s identity unless she truly trusted them. And Ray seemed like a great guy. “I’m not worried about that.”

“Then what is it, Barry? You know you can talk to me about anything.”

Barry tapped nervously against the side of his coffee mug. Could he tell Felicity this secret? Could he tell her about Leonard Snart? It would certainly feel good to talk through everything with someone and who better than Felicity? She already knew his secret as the Flash, and she had been there when Len had first shown up in Central as Captain Cold. Plus, she wasn’t so judgy as Caitlin, Wells, or Joe were. And she did better at keeping secrets than Cisco did, and Barry knew that she would keep it a secret if he asked her to. So, maybe…

“Hey, Bear,” Eddie said as he appeared beside their table before Barry could tell Felicity the truth.

“Eddie, hey,” he said, tensing only a little. “You remember Felicity?”

“Of course, great to see you again,” Eddie said, all smiles. “What brings you back to Central City.”

“Oh, you know, just… visiting my good pal here,” she replied, gently smacking Barry on the arm.

“Oh…” Eddie looked taken aback for a moment. “Is this… are you the one who Barry’s been dating?” He eventually asked. And both Barry and Felicity were instantly shaking their heads and stumbling out awkward ‘no’s and ‘we’re just friends’.

“And I have a boyfriend now. Ray. He’s a really great guy,” Felicity said.

“And it was really just the one kiss. No big deal,” Barry continued, and at this point, Eddie looked like he really regretted asking.

“But, wait, you’re seeing someone, Barry?” Felicity asked, turning back to face him with a big smile. “Good for you! What’s her name?”

“Err… his name, actually,” Barry corrected her, feeling that all-too-familiar twist in his stomach and weakening of the knees that always happened whenever he came out to someone new. It wasn’t like he expected either Eddie or Felicity to react badly to finding out he was bisexual, but regardless of how irrational it was he still got worried.

“Oh…” Felicity blinked, taken off guard for a moment.

“I didn’t know you were gay,” Eddie said, he was still smiling that big smile of his and seemed completely comfortable, and so Barry felt a little more relaxed as he nodded.

“Well, bi,” Barry corrected awkwardly. “I like both.”

“Well, what’s his name then? What’s he like?” Felicity asked. She was smiling again, too, and the last of Barry’s worries slipped away.

“Len; his name’s Len. And…” how could Barry describe Len? He was so different from anyone Barry had ever met before. “He’s great. We really seem to click, you know?”

“I have an idea,” Felicity said, grinning. “Why don’t we all go to dinner tonight?” Barry only realised he had been smiling so wide right then once his smile began to slip. “Come on, we all had fun last time. And I’d love to meet this Len of yours.”

“I don’t know-“ Barry said at the same time that Eddie said “sure, why not.” Both of his friends turned to look at him with a question in their eyes. “I just mean that… you know, Len and I are so new. We’ve only been on three dates.”

“Oh, come on,” Felicity pleaded. “Meeting the friends is so not a big deal. It’s not like meeting the family!”

“Yeah, Barry,” Eddie joined in. “I’d love to meet the guy who’s been making you so happy lately.” Barry looked between Felicity and Eddie’s faces and tried his best to not look like he was freaking out. Fuck. How was he supposed to get out of this without making Eddie suspicious? He was a damn good detective and would know right away that Barry was keeping something from them.

“I… it’s not just that,” he eventually said, realising he had the perfect out to this triple date and it wouldn’t even be a lie. “Len has a daughter. Sophie. She’s super cute, you guys would love her. She’s actually how Len and I met. But err, her mum has cancer, and last night Len got called to the hospital and…” Barry trailed off, Eddie and Felicity had both stopped smiling now. “I haven’t heard back from him since. I think she passed away.”

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Felicity said. “I’m sure we’ll meet him and his daughter another time.”

“Why don’t you come along anyway, though? Have it be the five of us,” Eddie suggested. “You look like you could use the distraction.” And, yeah… actually, that was exactly what Barry needed. He smiled and nodded. Eddie joined them for a little while until he got a call from Joe about another attack in a case they were working on. Barry waited just long enough for Eddie to leave before he turned to Felicity.

“Go, do your thing,” she nodded, and Barry gave her a smile and nod before he too rushed out of Jitters. Once outside and safely out of sight, Barry zipped off to STAR Labs to get into his Flash suit.

The man who’d been attacked was already dead when Barry got on location. He took a moment to take in the whole building and try to identify the killer when Cisco piped up over the comms informing him that the attacker had been… bees? That couldn’t be right.

Barry could hear something buzzing. He turned back to the body and squinted, watching as a bee flew out of the dead man’s mouth. He blinked and watched as it swirled up into the air.

“Am I supposed to arrest the bee?” Barry muttered into his comms. He swore this job was getting weirder and weirder by the day. Before anyone could respond to his very serious and not at all sarcastic remark, the buzzing grew exponentially louder. Barry watched slack-jawed as a swarm of hundreds of bees filled the air around him. “Uh… good bees?” He tried, but the bees were fast approaching him now and, nope, Barry was not equipped to handle this today. He took off running as Cisco directed him through the building, the bees pursuing him close behind. But the blueprints Cisco was using were out of date, and the exit that he promised wasn’t there. Barry had to think quick on his feet and darted back the way he’d come before the bees blocked off his exit, but he lost valuable distance, and by the time he’d made it out of the building, they were already on him. Now, one or two bees he could handle. But the hundreds that had appeared from seemingly thin air? That was another case altogether.

Barry was stung.

He was stung a lot.

And then he couldn’t breathe. He bent forward as he tried to suck up the air, but it felt like dust in his lungs. He was itchy all over, and he was desperate to rub at the stings covering his body, but he was struggling to stay standing as he forced in one wheezing breath after another. His tongue felt heavy, and his head became too light.

He stumbled to the floor.

And everything went black.

He came back around up with a gasp, his chest felt like it was on fire, but Joe was there to help him through it.

Back at STAR Labs, Joe filled him and the rest of the team in on the whole killer bee case he was working on as Caitlin checked him over. Felicity and Ray both took it in turns to make bad bee puns, and Barry smiled as it made him think about Len who would have easily put them both to shame. But thinking about Len reminded Barry of how badly last night had gone between them. He checked his phone as subtly as he could manage, but he’d had no texts or missed calls from Len… maybe Barry should text him first? Just to make sure everything was alright.

Once Cait confirmed that all of the apitoxin was out of his system, Barry quickly changed into his suit. He led his two friends out of the Lab while insisting that he was perfectly fine for a dinner date and reminding them that Eddie and Iris could absolutely not find out that Barry had technically died for a little while today. With everything else that was going on lately, it would be just Barry’s luck if Ray were to accidentally slip up and reveal to his friends that Barry had been keeping from them that he was secretly the Flash.

The dinner started off pretty well actually, if not a little awkward since Ray had bought out the entire restaurant for the night. Everyone kept asking him questions about Len and so Barry had to keep constantly on his toes to avoid accidentally letting something slip that he shouldn’t have. Tonight was not the right time to tell his friends that he was dating a supervillain. Or… retired supervillain? The fact that Barry didn’t even know the answer to whether or not Len was a thief still was a little worrying actually. Eventually, he managed to sway the questions towards Ray instead and sighed happily as the attention was turned away from himself for the time being.

Unfortunately, the peace only lasted through the first course before Barry was getting a text from Cisco about an emergency. His usual excuse to Iris for disappearing at odd times was a ‘work emergency’, but that obviously wasn’t going to work tonight with Eddie here. And he couldn’t use his ‘Joe needs to talk to me’ excuse with Iris here either. So, he ended up stumbling his way through an excuse about one of his friends going through a hard time and needed someone to talk to before zipping back to STAR Labs just in time to catch a bee that had hidden inside of his Flash suit and was only mere seconds away from stinging Wells.

Only, it turned out that the ‘bees’ were actually hyper-venomous robots being controlled by some tech genius that rivalled even Felicity. Once the dinner date was over, Felicity and Ray joined the rest of the team and helped to track down and defeat the Bug-Eyed Bandit as Cisco and Ray had taken to naming her. Barry personally thought that Queen Bee would have been a better name, but he supposed it didn’t catch on.

Work complete, Barry handed Brie Larvan over to the CCPD and retired for the night, having successfully managed to distract himself from his relationship troubles with Leonard Snart for an evening. But once the day was coming to a close, Barry lay in bed staring at his phone and wishing that Len would call or text or something.

Giving in to his impulses, Barry decided to write off a small text and hoped that Len would reply. He waited for a while, scrolling through Instagram and then Facebook and pretending he wasn’t just waiting up for a text which never came.

[] [] []

Len and Lisa had begun to come up with a plan of action by the time that they sat down for dinner. It had made sense to bring Sophie back to Andy’s house, the home she had grown up in, last night because Len hadn’t wanted her to wake up at his place and get scared because she didn’t know where she was. Len had thought that they could take their time transitioning Sophie over to living at his house over the next few weeks. But that wasn’t an option anymore. Len had become convinced over the past 11 hours that dragging this whole thing out would do his daughter more harm than good. He was worried that taking his time and moving her after she had already begun to heal would reopen her wound and cause whatever progress she could make with her powers to backtrack.

Len would be pulling Sophie out of school too. As much as it hurt him to do so, it only made sense… if she couldn’t control her powers, then she was just putting her classmates, her teachers, and herself at risk if she continued. They would begin homeschooling in a few weeks once she’d had a little time to grieve and settle into her new house. Len wasn’t sure exactly how that would work considering that neither he nor Lisa had even finished High School, but they would figure it out.

Len was extremely grateful for his sister’s help today. It wasn’t her problem to deal with, but she was adamant about being there for both him and her niece. She was good with Sophie too, far better than Len felt around his daughter. He wished…

Len didn’t actually know what he wished. That he had been there for Sophie from the beginning, perhaps? Watched her take her first steps and say her first words? Most children’s first words were ‘Dada’ because the ‘d’ sounds were much easier to make than the ‘m’ in Mama… but Len didn’t actually even know what Sophie’s first word was. Maybe if he had been there, it would have been Dada. Len thought that would have been nice to hear. Though another, much smaller, part of Len wished that he’d never learnt that Sophie existed… or maybe that she had never been his kid to begin with. It would make his life a hell of a lot easier if he didn’t suddenly have a 5-year-old metahuman daughter to look after. But just thinking that made Len feel like shit. He hated that part of himself. It was true that Sophie had made his life unexpectedly complicated this past six months, but she also made it better.

Len loved his daughter. He loved her more than anything in this world, more than he thought he was even capable of loving anything or anyone, more than he loved even his own sister who he had practically raised. He loved her, and he would do anything for her… he’d just have to figure everything else out as he went.

The next part of the plan was potentially the hardest: teaching Sophie control. How was he supposed to teach his daughter how to use powers? This was unchartered territory, not just for Len but for the whole of Central City! Metahumans were so new that the large majority of the population had only regarded them as rumours up until a couple of months ago when the Flash was finally revealed live on TV thwarting a man named Hartley Rathaway from destroying his parents’ building. Now, the Flash was becoming a bit of a household name, but how metahuman powers worked was still a bit of a mystery to the general public.

Though a little bit of research today had revealed something that Len wasn’t quite sure what to make of. Because there was one person who had been reporting on metahuman sightings and theories for nearly a year, since the very beginning when the rumours were only just surfacing. If there were anyone who might know something about how metahumans worked, it would be her: Iris West. But that was… a little too coincidental for Len’s liking. How was it that Barry’s best friend just so happened to be the closest thing to an expert on metahumans that you could find outside of the Flash or his team members in STAR Labs? Len recognised that coincidences happened sometimes, but this one sat with him wrong.

He didn’t give it much thought, though, because he had more important things to worry about.

Len and Lisa shared a glance as they watched Sophie push the food around on her plate without much interest. Len had made mac and cheese, her favourite, but she just seemed completely disinterested in it. She was quiet, and it was unnerving Len more than he cared to admit. And the constant cold field that she was emitting wasn’t exactly helping matters. Len and Lisa had both had to layer up to keep themselves from shivering, but Sophie seemed unaffected by it. Len wasn’t even sure if she could feel the cold that was seeping out of her and covering nearby surfaces in frost. That was good, at least. He’d rather she wasn't physically affected by her powers.

“Are you not hungry?” Lisa asked, and Sophie shook her head no, but she didn’t put down her fork and just continued to play idly with her food.

“If you eat some food, maybe your Auntie Lisa would go buy you a cake,” Len said. Sophie looked up at him for a moment as though she was gaging whether or not she could convince her dad to give her cake without eating her dinner. The answer was yes, but Len had a pretty good poker face and so Sophie seemed to decide not to push and she started eating her dinner instead. Len let out an inaudible sigh of relief. Trying to make a 5-year-old eat when they didn’t feel like it was at least one problem he didn’t have to deal with today.

“So…” Len said once Sophie had eaten a few more bites. “We’re going to be moving into my house tomorrow,” he said. He wanted to ask her how she felt about it, but he had a feeling that he already knew what the answer would be. Sophie looked back at him, but she didn’t speak. She just picked her fork up again and ate another bite of the macaroni. “Do you want to help me to pack up the rest of your things?” He asked, and Sophie just nodded sadly. “You’ll be able to decorate your new room however you like,” he told her, and Sophie gave him a soft smile. But Len could tell her heart wasn’t in it anymore, not like it had been a couple of days ago when Sophie was excitedly talking about a princess bed net that her friend had in her room and begging Len for one too.

He looked to Lisa again for her help, and his sister leaned forward on the table, stage whispering to Sophie from over their plates.

“Why stop at just your room? Your dad is in desperate need of a real lady’s opinion on the rest of his house décor too,” she said, and that actually managed to get a giggle out of Sophie. Len felt his shoulders droop in relief, he hadn’t quite realised how tense he’d gotten.

Lisa finished eating and excused herself to go buy the cake that Len had promised, and Sophie started looking a little happier at the prospect of chocolate. The chill still remained in the room though. Len took the plates to the sink and washed them as he forced himself to keep talking. It was difficult for him, he was outside of his comfort zone here, but he wouldn’t let that stop him.

“What colour do you want to paint your room?” He asked, and Sophie thought for a second.

“Blue!” she said, sounded excited. “No, pink!” She looked conflicted, and Len laughed.

“Why not both?” The suggestion seemed scandalous to her, and she stared up at him with her big blue eyes. Len noticed, not for the first time, that she looked a lot like Lisa did when she was a kid, though there was obviously a lot of Andy in there too, like the colour of her skin, the shape of her eyes, and the soft light brown of her hair.

“Can I have beads as a door?” She asked, and Len frowned. It wasn’t exactly his first choice for décor, but he had agreed to let her do her room however she wanted so…

“Sure, why not?”

“An’ a big fluffy rug?”

“The fluffiest we can find,” he agreed, knowing full well that it would be hell to vacuum but not wanting to disappoint his little girl. Lisa was back by then, brandishing a much bigger chocolate cake than the three of them would be able to eat. Len just quirked his eyebrow at her, but she refused to meet his eyes as she cut Sophie the biggest slice possible that could still fit on top of one of her Disney themed plastic plates.

After they were done eating, the three of them returned to the sofa and spent the rest of the night watching cartoons on Netflix until Sophie crawled up on his lap and rested her head on his shoulder, her breathing beginning to even out.

“Are you falling asleep?” He asked her, and she shook her head, not lifting it from his shoulder. “I think it’s bedtime,” he said, and Sophie shook her head again, whining in the back of her throat and begging for just ten more minutes. “I’ll give you until the end of the episode. But if you start snoring…” he let his words drift off while poking his daughter playfully in the ribs. She squirmed and laughed.

“I won’t!” She declared.

She did.

Len scooped her up only a couple of minutes later and carried her to bed. She woke up while in his arms and started complaining but he hushed her, reminding her how big of a day tomorrow was going to be. It didn’t placate her really, but she eventually stopped complaining. Len took her to get dressed into her pyjamas and brush her teeth, but he noticed that the temperature in the room was dropping drastically and he ended up scraping a bit of frost off of the bathroom mirror so Sophie could see herself in it as she brushed.

When he picked her up again, she was cold. Not as cold as she had been this morning during her breakdown, but cold enough that it made Len feel worried. He felt the chill seep into his bones as he carried her to her bed and had to grit his teeth against the sharpness of her touch. But he was much more concerned for his daughter than he was for himself.

Len tucked her into her bed and switched on her nightlight. He asked if she wanted him to read her a story, but she just shook her head and hugged her teddy bear closer, burying her head in its soft fur. She was sad again, and it broke Len’s heart. Maybe Len should have helped put her to bed more when Andy was still alive so that she could get used to it? He just hadn’t wanted to push Andy out; he’d wanted to give Sophie as much time with her mother as she could get. Len ran his hand through Sophie’s hair, wiping it out of her eyes.

“Daddy… wha’s wrong with me?” Sophie asked, her voice small and broken. Len was shaking his head before she’d even finished speaking. He moved to wrap his arm around his little girl’s shoulder and kissed her forehead.

“Nothing. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you, Sophie,” Len told her, simple and to-the-point. He didn’t want to leave any room for his daughter to argue it. But of course, she did anyway. Because she had Snart blood running through her veins and God knew how stubborn that would make her. Len foresaw a lot of arguments in her teenage years.

“Bu’… the ice… I did that,” Sophie struggled to find the words and Len stroked her arm with his thumb, trying to soothe her.

“You did.” There was no point denying it. Sophie had powers. Pretending like she didn’t would only prevent her from gaining control of them; she would cause harm to herself and the people around her if any of them tried to just lock it all up and pretend it wasn’t true. “You’re like a real-life Elsa,” he said. Sophie looked up at him with her big blue eyes.

“D’ya think?” She asked, and Len nodded, keeping his face serious yet soft. It was a look which he had spent the past 6 months perfecting after realising that his hardened criminal looks were too sharp and emotionless to use on his daughter.

“Oh, definitely.”

“Bu’ I don’t have a sister to help me,” she said, she wrapped her arms tighter around her teddy bear as tears welled up in her eyes. Len felt his own eyes start to sting, but he held the tears back. He would be strong for his daughter, he had to be. He felt the tightness building behind his eyes, sharp and painful, and he had to wait a moment before speaking in case his voice shook.

“No, but you have me and your Auntie Lisa,” Len said. “We’re not going anywhere.”

“Can you sleep in here tonight?” She asked, and Len nodded, dipping down to kiss her forehead and wipe away her tears.

“Of course. Let me just get changed,” he promised, and his daughter nodded. He quickly got up and slipped out of her bedroom. He’d left a few things here these past few months for in case of an emergency, so he quickly slipped out of his button-up and dress pants and into a pair of loose-fitting bottoms with a soft grey Henley. It was still early, but Len truly was tired, having been completely unable to rest the previous night. He told Lisa that he was going to bed and she decided to go back to her own apartment for the night, promising to be back early tomorrow morning with boxes to help pack up the house.

Sophie was still awake when Len walked back into her bedroom, though her eyes were drooping against her will. Len lifted the covers and crawled under, and Sophie immediately dropped her teddy bear and started cuddling him instead, which was good because there really wasn’t much room in her little bed and he had to curl up just so that he could fit inside it. But she was still so cold, and Len was at a loss for what to do to help her.

“Love you, Daddy,” she said around a yawn, crawling closer so that she was lying mostly on top of his chest. He remembered the first time that Sophie had said that to him. He remembered how difficult it was to say those words back, even though he’d known in his heart even then that he loved her. It wasn’t difficult anymore.

“I love you too, Pumpkin.”

He waited until he felt Sophie’s breathing even out and heard her soft snores against his chest before he closed his eyes and let himself drift off too.

Chapter Text

When Len woke up the next morning, he was shivering, he could see his breath in front of him by the light of the nightlight, his fingers felt numb, and the blistering cold burns on his chest felt like fire against his skin. Sophie was still asleep, and he was reluctant to leave her, but he was worried that if he didn’t get up soon, he might lose an appendage to frostbite.

Quietly, Len slipped out of his daughter’s bed and made his way to the bathroom. He took a shower and let the water warm him up, flexing his fingers to increase the blood flow. Once warm again, Len stayed in the hot spray for a little longer as he leant his head against the tiled wall. He tried to relax, but his mind was constantly racing. He worried about everything that could go wrong now that Sophie was a meta. He worried about whether he was doing the right thing trying to handle this on his own without seeking help from someone like the Flash. He worried that he was fucking everything up and that Sophie would end up paying the price.

Sighing, Len switched the shower off. He dressed back into the same clothes he had been wearing yesterday, which just so happened to be the same clothes he had been wearing the night before that too. He really needed to go home and grab a change of clothes, but he supposed it could wait one more day. They were packing up all of Sophie’s things today and taking them over to Len’s house this afternoon.

He checked on Sophie one last time before going downstairs to make breakfast. He was still grabbing ingredients from the cupboards for pancake batter when he heard the front door open. He looked over his shoulder to see Lisa entering the house with her arms filled with flattened cardboard boxes. Len frowned at what she was wearing: a thick down jacket with a pair of tall brown leather winter boots – sans the heel for once, a pair of denim jeans, and some slim black gloves which might have been suede. She put the boxes down and then grabbed something out of a backpack she had slung across her shoulder.

“Here,” she said, tossing a thick winter sweater his way. Len caught it easily and examined it. It wasn’t one of his own sweaters, it was brand new with the label still intact; and like Lisa’s own outfit, it was much thicker than the weather outside permitted. But it wasn’t the weather that Lisa was trying to protect them from…

The ice burns on Len’s chest still throbbed, and Len was sure that they were going to scar. They wouldn’t be the worst of Len’s scars, far from it, but he would rather not gain more of them if he could help it. Len nodded his thanks to his sister and began to unbutton his shirt to slip the clean sweater on in its place, relieved to have anything clean to put on no matter how much it might make him overheat.

Looking at his sister dressed for a winter storm, Len thought about the navy-blue parka he’d donned for his last heist and smiled to himself. He didn’t know if he’d be able to wear a parka again without thinking of the Captain Cold persona that he’d never truly got the chance to explore. Len loved his daughter, and he was happy that he had found out about her, but sometimes a part of him regretted that he’d never had a chance to play in this new game the Flash had created. He tried not to think on that too much though, he already felt like a bad enough father as it was.

“I had to guess with your size,” she told him as she moved around to the coffee machine to make herself a drink. “I tried calling but your phone’s dead.”

Len frowned; he hadn’t even thought about his phone in at least a day. He tried to remember where he’d last used it and eventually found it on the coffee table in the living room. He returned to the kitchen and plugged it in to charge while he continued making breakfast.

“How are you holding up?” She asked as Len finished pulling down all the ingredients and separated the eggs. He shrugged.

“Fine. I wouldn’t have expected Sophie to be able to sleep through the night, but she did, so that’s something at least.”

“I didn’t ask how Sophie is, Lenny,” Lisa said softly, moving closer to place her hand on his arm. “How are you doing?”

“It doesn’t matter,” Len shrugged her off.

“Of course, it does! You need to grieve too.”

“I can’t!” Len growled, surprising himself with his anger. He wasn’t really sure where that had come from. He took a deep breath and attempted to calm himself. “My daughter is a metahuman. She’s scared, and she’s in pain. This isn’t about me. It’s about her.”

“Sophie doesn’t need a dad who locks up his feelings in a vault. It’s not good for either of you!”

“I’ll deal with my grief once this is all over,” Len said through gritted teeth, hoping to put an end to the conversation, but Lisa was shaking her head.

“It’ll never be over. Andy’s dead. That’s not something you can just wait-out. Sophie won’t ever stop missing her mum. And she’ll always be a metahuman. And even if you do find a way to help her with her powers, and even if you find a way to help her with her grief, there’s always going to be something else. You can’t put these kinds of things on hold, Lenny. It’ll eat you away inside.”

“It’s worked just fine this past 43 years,” Len muttered, turning back to his cooking.

“Yeah, well, it’s not just you anymore. ‘Just fine’ isn’t going to cut it. Or do you want Sophie to become as emotionally unhealthy as you are?”

Len’s hand stilled as he reached for the mixer. He knew that Lisa was telling the truth, without another parent Sophie would end up picking up all of his bad habits. He didn’t want that for her. He wanted her to be better than he was. But, the truth was, Len didn’t even know how to start grieving. He’d always had to be strong because whenever he’d ever shown even the slightest bit of emotion, Lewis decided it was time for another ‘lesson’. How was he supposed to just unlearn nearly 40 years of repression? Was it even possible?

It was about then that Len’s phone gained enough battery to turn back on and buzzed with a text notification. Looking for a distraction, Len went to check it. Lisa didn’t look happy by his literal avoidance of the topic, but she must have seen that she’d started to get through to him because she let it drop, for now, to give him some time to think. Len refused to make eye contact with her as he picked up his phone.

NEW MESSAGE From: Barry
Received: 10:27pm
Hey, how are you?

Len stared at the text and felt like sighing. What was it with the people in his life trying to get him to open up? Len supposed he shouldn’t be surprised, though. It wasn’t like Barry knew about the abuse he’d suffered as a kid and the kinds of marks it left on him still to this day. Or, maybe he did… Len was reminded once again that Barry worked for the cops. He’d probably, almost definitely, read Len’s files a few times by now. Len didn’t like how that made him feel. Definitely angry, like Barry had broken his trust. But, at the same time… a little relieved, perhaps. If Len were really going down this relationship route, then he would have to fill his partner in eventually about his past… at least this way, Barry already knew it all.

Len pinched the bridge of his nose as he tried to think up a reply to Barry. He was unsure how to answer or if he even should answer. He’d been so preoccupied with Sophie and funeral planning that he hadn’t even had time to think about Barry and their ever-growing complicated relationship since Andy had died. Now all of it was coming rushing back to the forefront of Len’s mind, and it was just too much to deal with right then.

He locked his phone and put it back down on the counter.

“Was that your new guy?” Lisa asked. Len shouldn’t have been surprised that Lisa had worked that out. Sometimes, he swore she could read him like a book. When he just looked at her, she shrugged. “Honestly, who else would it be? I didn’t text you, Andy’s gone, you’re not on speaking terms with Mick… That just leaves your new boyfriend. How are things going between you two?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Shocker.”

She looked as though she was going to say more, but as Lisa opened her mouth to speak, there was a loud pop from the fuse box under the staircase, which made them both jump.

And then Sophie was screaming.

Len’s body reacted before he had truly even registered the sound. He sprinted out of the kitchen, taking the stairs two steps at a time, as he rushed to find his daughter. The closer he got to Sophie’s bedroom, the colder the air became. By the time he had gotten to her doorway, the cold felt like a physical obstacle he needed to push past. He could feel it in his body, in his lungs, he was finding it hard to breathe, but he kept on going.

When he got his first look inside Sophie’s room, he stopped dead in his tracks.

Her room, her entire room, was covered in ice. Sharp icicles plastered the ceiling, reflecting the morning light streaming in from the crack in the curtains like a hundred small chandeliers. The once-soft carpet was now solid and unforgiving. Len instinctively jumped back after his bare foot came into contact with the ice that covered the floor. It was at least 2 inches thick by the point that it reached the door, but it only grew thicker the closer it got to Sophie until it sloped upwards to meet with the ice blanketing the top of her bed. And everything else, from walls to furniture, shimmered with the impossible substance.

Daddy!” Sophie screamed, breaking Len out of his initial shock. Len knew it was a bad idea, but he began to rush forward once more. But Lisa wouldn’t let him. She had been right on his tail the entire way up to Sophie’s room, and now she was holding Len back from going to comfort his daughter. Len tried to push his sister off, but she just held on tighter with all of her power and yanked him off balance.

“You’ll lose a foot if you go in there. Don’t be stupid,” she cursed at him under her breath. Lisa managed to get in between Len and the doorway and stand in his path. He knew that what she was saying was probably true, but that didn’t make it any easier to stand back and wait for Lisa, who was still wearing her boots, to go scoop his daughter up and bring her to him.

Sophie tried to wriggle out of Lisa’s arms as she scooped her up, leaning all the while towards where Len stood helplessly in the doorway. He only had to wait for a handful of seconds, but every one of them felt like a knife in his heart. Eventually, Lisa was back on the landing, and he was pulling Sophie into his arms, suddenly very thankful for the new sweater Lisa had given him. Sophie was cold, but hopefully not cold enough to leave any burns this time around.

Shh,” he whispered, bouncing Sophie just a little. “It’s okay, we’re here.” She was shaking with her tears. Len looked at Lisa helplessly, and that was when he noticed the ice creeping ever closer, covering the walls of the landing now just as it did Sophie’s bedroom. The ceiling wasn’t covered yet, nor the floor, so that was good. He hoped that the ice wouldn’t cover the floor so long as Sophie wasn’t touching it, his bare feet couldn’t withstand that kind of cold for very long and he didn’t much feel like losing a toe.

M’mmy,” Sophie whimpered, and Len’s throat felt tight. He wished that Andy was still here. She was a good Mum. The world was a cruel place though, and the good ones like Andrea Mendoza died young while the bad ones like Lewis Snart lived on and on.

“It’s all going to be okay,” he whispered, hoping that it was the truth. Andy was gone now, but they would be okay. Eventually.

His words didn’t help. The air was getting colder and colder, and Len was beginning to feel a bit numb. He wanted to sit down and let Sophie cry it out on his lap, but he had just enough clearance of mind to recognise that as a bad idea. He couldn’t allow the cold get to him. He couldn’t sit down or rest his eyes. If he did… he might not wake back up. Len started pacing the landing while Sophie wept on his shoulder, all the while keeping an eye on the ice-covered floor of Sophie’s room and making sure that it wasn’t creeping any closer.

It wasn’t.

“Did you have a nightmare?” He managed to ask, though his tongue felt weird in his mouth. He wondered if he was slurring his words slightly. He couldn’t tell properly; his ears were beginning to ring a little. Sophie nodded against his chest, and he rubbed her back soothingly. He found that his legs had come to a stop, and Len shook himself. He had to keep moving. He had to keep moving. Lisa was saying something. He heard the words, but he couldn’t make sense of them. He had to keep moving.

After a few moments, Sophie began to quieten, and the air gradually became warmer again. Len felt like he was defrosting as the feeling returned to his arms and legs. When he took in a breath, it didn’t feel like it was burning the back of his throat and lungs anymore. He was still tried, though. So very, very tired.

He kept pacing and rocking her until she stopped crying completely, and he noticed the walls around them begin to defrost. He stared at the ice as he watched it retreat on itself. It wasn’t melting per se, just… disappearing. He reached a hand out and touched it against the wall closest to him. It was completely dry and only a little cool to the touch. Fascinating.

His own body temperature was beginning to return to normal but not quick enough for his liking. Len passed his daughter back to Lisa to take downstairs so that he could try to warm himself back up. With another fuse blown, Len knew the shower wouldn’t be working so he grabbed a spare towel, aiming to dampen it with hot water use it to heat up his body. As he moved to the bathroom to do just that, he took one last look at Sophie’s room, the solid ice was receding but it still completely covered every surface, and his stomach flipped as he realised something: if he had still been in there when she’d had her nightmare, then he would be dead.

[] [] []

Len needed a break, not that he would admit that but his sister knew him well, so Lisa pushed him out the door to run to the shop and buy some more fuses while she looked after his daughter. He bought enough that he would be able to replace them all if need be, though it looked as though only the one in Sophie’s room had blown completely and the others had just been tripped. He raced back as quickly as he could, not really sure what he was expecting to find on his return, but Sophie and Lisa were sitting happily on the sofa colouring a book together. The nightmare was gone but not forgotten. Len would have to ask his daughter what it was about eventually, but he didn’t want to trigger another episode.

He replaced the burnt-out fuses and began cooking their breakfasts. He let Sophie eat her pancakes on her lap so that he could sit her in front of the TV while he spoke to his sister. Unsurprisingly, due to their conversation the previous night, Sophie wanted to watch Frozen and so Len brought it up on Netflix and pressed play. He placed a quick kiss on her forehead and ruffled her hair a little before joining his sister in the kitchen.

“What are we going to do, Lenny?” Lisa asked once the door was shut behind them. Len leant against it so he could see Sophie still through the window in the wood.

“If I could answer that, don’t you think I would have told you already?” He snapped. Lisa glared him down, and Len had to take a deep breath before he allowed himself to speak again. “Sorry.” He hadn’t meant to take it out on Lisa, she was trying her best to help him out, and he didn’t want to push her away.

“I’ll forgive you this once,” she warned him. They talked about their options for a little while then, but neither of them could think up anything new since the last time they had discussed it less than 24 hours ago. So, they stuck to the plan: they would pack up and move Sophie into his house tonight, they would pull her out of school and start home-schooling, and they would figure out the rest as they went. It was all they could do.

After a few minutes, they returned to the living room to eat their breakfast beside Sophie. She seemed happy enough as though she had forgotten entirely about her nightmare, but Len wasn’t buying it. Once they had eaten, he took their plates out and washed them, returning to the living room for only a moment before deciding that he would allow Sophie to finish watching the movie.

“Daddy says I’m like Elsa,” Sophie said.

“Oh, Elsa has nothing on you!” Lisa insisted, and Sophie smiled, tucking herself under Lisa’s arm as they continued to watch the film. Len watched them for a little while before turning around with the intention of picking up the cardboard boxes Lisa had brought with her and taping them up ready.

“Elsa hurt people,” Sophie said suddenly, making Len freeze in his place. “Wha’ if I hurt someone? Wha’ if something bad happens?” Her voice was so quiet that Len nearly had to strain to hear her, and it made Len’s heart break. No five-year-old should have those kinds of fears. Lisa, seeming wholly caught off-guard by the question, turned to look at Len for help. He was already moving forward to sit on Sophie’s other side.

“I’m never going to let anything bad happen to you,” Len vowed to his daughter, placing his hand on her knee and giving a light squeeze. He hoped more than anything that he could keep that promise… “And you could never hurt anyone,” he lied, the cold burns she’d left on his chest told a different story. Though Sophie knew nothing about them and he was determined to keep it that way. “You’re just too good for that.” That part, at least, was right. Sophie was so good and innocent that Len didn’t really understand where she had got it from. It certainly wasn’t anything she’d received from his side of the family.

“Elsa hurt Anna,” Sophie said, she sounded miserable.

“Yeah, well, little sisters can be annoying sometimes.”

“Jerk,” Lisa muttered, affronted. He smiled at her playfully.

“Train wreck,” he whispered back his usual response. When his eyes turned back to Sophie, she was smiling a little bit. “See… annoying,” he finished with a gesture to his own little sister. Sophie let out a giggle. “But you don’t have to put up with that,” he continued. “You’ve got us instead. We’re here for you, Pumpkin.”

Sophie looked a little better now, but there was something in her eyes that told Len she was still worrying over it. Len hated that, he hated how closed off she had become over the past day whereas before she had been such an open book. Now she was keeping things from him, he could see it. The research he’d done before Andy died told him that Sophie might start keeping things from him out of fear that he would be disappointed in her and she might lose him too. But being prepared for it didn’t make it hurt any less…

“You know, you can tell me anything,” he whispered. “No matter how big or small you might think it is.” Sophie shook her head instantly, so quick that Len doubted the words had even sunk in yet.

Len rolled his jaw as he thought for a second, Lisa was silent on Sophie’s other side. Len didn’t blame her for getting quiet all of a sudden: Lisa had known Sophie for even less time than Len had known her, and suddenly finding out you had a niece was nowhere near the same as finding out you had a daughter. Len had been thrown into the deep end and forced to swim, whereas Lisa was still only dipping her toe in to test the water. She had been a big help yesterday, but she just wasn’t ready to answer these kinds of issues. So, that meant it was all up to Len. Great.

“Does this have something to do with your nightmare?” Len asked, and Sophie seemed to shrink in on herself. That was all the answer that Len needed. “Can you tell me what it was about?” He asked. Before he’d even finished speaking, tears were welling up in Sophie’s eyes. Len tensed as he worried that she was about to have another episode, but the ice didn’t come. Len let out a shaking breath as Sophie crawled up on his lap and buried her face in his sweater: if she’d had another episode this close, he and Lisa might not have survived it. The thought twisted in his stomach and felt like a knife in his heart. He wasn’t concerned for his own safety, he realised, he was just worried about leaving Sophie alone.

“The ice was ev’ywhere,” Sophie sobbed. Len remembered. The image of Sophie crying on top a frozen bed while solid ice covered every surface, stopping him from reaching her, might just haunt him for the rest of his life. He didn’t want to feel that way again. That was why he was still wearing his shoes; he wouldn’t take them off now in the house unless he had to sleep or shower. He wouldn’t, couldn’t, risk not being able to reach her again.

“What did you dream about?” He asked again, and Sophie looked up at him with those big blue eyes, red splotches on her face. Len wished he could just soothe away all of her pain. But the look in her eyes made Len realise something… she hadn’t been talking about the ice in her bedroom, she was talking about her nightmare. ‘The ice was everywhere’… she’d dreamt about her powers? Len probably should have expected that. “The ice was in your dream?” He asked, and Sophie nodded. “What happened?” She clammed back up again and buried her head once more in his sweater. Len realised the room had dropped a few degrees when he let out his next breath and saw it puff visibly in the air in front of him.

“Nothin’,” Sophie muttered into his sweater. “It was jus’ there.”

Len didn’t believe that for a second. But how was he going to get his daughter to open up about this?

“You know… I used to have a lot of nightmares when I was a kid,” he said on a whim. He remembered some of them, the worst ones. “If I tell you about my nightmare, will you tell me about yours?” He asked. There was a momentary pause before Sophie was nodding her head against his chest. Len forced himself to breathe as he remembered one of his reoccurring nightmares. He hadn’t had it in over 20 years, and he felt almost stupid talking about it now, but it still made him uncomfortable. Len looked right ahead at the TV, avoiding Lisa’s gaze, as he spoke.

“There was this one dream where I found a stray dog on the street, and I took it home with me. I was a little older than you are: 8, maybe 9 years old.” He could feel Lisa’s eyes on him, and he wanted to just shut up right then and not say another word. But he forced the words to keep coming. “But after a little while, it got aggressive. It attacked Lisa and me, and I couldn’t do a thing to stop it. It hurt us, really badly. And Lisa was taken away from me,” he summarised as quickly as he could without giving away any gory details. Len had told her the truth of the dream except… he hadn’t told her that the dog in his dream was actually Lewis, in that strange way that people were just other things when it came to dreams; he wanted to be open with Sophie so that she could be open with him, but she was too young to understand the horror that is Lewis Snart. “It terrified me for a very long time. I had this idea that if I did something wrong, then I would lose someone I loved. But it’s okay to be scared by a nightmare. We all get scared sometimes. Even me.

“The important thing is that you don’t keep it all bottled up in there,” he continued, poking Sophie lightly in the ribs and making her squirm and let out a small wet giggle. “If you share how you feel, then you might feel a little bit better.” Sophie was silent for a little while, so long that he thought she might have fallen asleep. But then she lifted her head and looked up at him, her eyes were glistening and there was snot dripping from her nose which she wiped away with the sleeve of her pyjama top, then she turned to look at Lisa.

“Do you have nigh’mares, Aunty Lisa?” Sophie asked, her words were a little less slurred now thought she hadn’t stopped crying just yet.

“Sometimes, yeah,” Lisa said. When Sophie only sat staring at her for another moment, Lisa squinted her eyes suspiciously. “You want to hear about one of my nightmares now?” She asked. Sophie nodded. “Gee, this girl of yours drives a hard bargain, Lenny,” Lisa said, shaking her head. But then she quickly went into a description of a dream she’d had once where her best friend had turned out to be a vampire. Lisa was better at sharing and storytelling than Len was and she had Sophie completely wrapped up, gasping in shock at all of the appropriate moments. Once Lisa was done, Len noticed that the temperature of the room wasn’t quite so cold as it had been a few minutes ago.

“Your turn,” Len prodded. Sophie looked down at her lap as she spoke.

“I dreamt I hurt Mummy with the ice and that’s why she went away,” Sophie said slowly. Len sighed. He really should have expected something like that.

“Is that how you feel?” Len asked, “that Mummy died because of your powers?” He kept his voice calm despite all the emotions that threatened to make it waver. He didn’t want Sophie to pick up on any anger or sadness and misinterpret it as being directed at her rather than the situation. He didn’t want Sophie to think that she couldn’t tell Len these kinds of things.

“I don’t know,” Sophie eventually said, and Len wrapped her up in a big hug.

“You didn’t,” he told her. “Your mummy died because she was very ill. She didn’t want to leave you, and if she were here right now, she would be amazed by your powers, not scared of them. Your mummy loved you more than anything in the entire world. And so do I,” he told her. “Do you believe me?” He asked his daughter and Sophie slowly nodded her head against his chest. “Good.”

They sat in silence for the rest of the film. When it got to the scene where Anna nearly died protecting Elsa, Len winced though he tried not to let his tension show enough for Sophie to sense it. He looked down at her as subtly as he could, but she didn’t seem any more upset about the scene than she usually did and he didn’t notice any change in temperature in the room which had become a pretty good way to measure her emotions lately.

After Frozen had finished, Len, Lisa, and Sophie went upstairs to pack up Sophie’s things, relieved to discover that her room had magically defrosted just as the landing had. He made sure to ask her opinion on whether or not she wanted to keep or donate anything. Unsurprisingly, she chose to keep almost all of it. But Len had the room for everything in his house, so he didn’t mind. It was giving Sophie the option, not the result of it, which was important. He wanted her to feel as though she had a little bit of control despite everything that had gone wrong lately.

It didn’t take them too long to finish packing her bedroom, and Len decided that he could leave packing up the rest of the house for another time. Doing it now was just more than he thought he could handle. Lisa cleared all of the perishable food out as Len took the boxes one by one to fit inside the back of his car. There was just about enough room for them all so long as Lisa rode her bike over to Len’s house.

Len was surprised that Sophie didn’t cry when he carried her out to the car and locked the house up behind him. She had gone quiet again, but he thought that quiet was at least marginally better than crying. It was getting late now so Len told Sophie that they could order takeaway for dinner and he spent the entire car ride trying to coax her into speaking as he asked her about what her favourite takeaway food was. He didn’t really get a solid answer out of her except that she wanted fries. Len could work with that though.

As he pulled up outside of his house, the sky was beginning to darken. Lisa had beaten them there and was waiting outside, ready to scoop Sophie up and carry her inside while Len took in the boxes. After everything was in the house, he went into his kitchen to grab his house phone and order some food. It was then that he noticed the day-old cooking sitting on the counter still in the roasting dish along with the opened bottle of wine with two glasses, the reminders of how the last time he’d been in this room he’d been on a date with Barry. One of the chairs around Len’s kitchen table was pushed slightly askew, the only evidence of how close he and Barry had come to having sex on top of it only 2 nights ago.

Len thought about Barry. He thought about the way that Barry drove him a little mad. He thought about the way his heart raced when they were touching. He thought about the softness of his skin, the slope of his neck, the press of his cock against Len’s leg. He thought about the text sitting unanswered on his phone.

But then he thought about Sophie.

Len didn’t have time to deal with his relationship drama right now when Sophie was suffering so badly. Len picked up his landline to order some pizza. Then he righted the chair, scraped the day-old chicken into the trash, and tipped the wine down the sink.

[] [] []

A few days passed, and Sophie remained unchanged. She had settled well into Len’s house, but her nightmares continued; and every time she had one, she would wake to find her room covered in solid ice. Since the first instance, Len had taken to wearing his boots near-constantly around the house, just so he would never have to worry about frostbite when going to comfort his daughter. Not that comforting Sophie ever really seemed to do much good… once she had an episode, she couldn’t be talked back down, and Len just had to wait for her to cry it out.

She was also still emitting a low-level cold field which would occasionally spike or lesson depending on her mood, but it was always there. Len had considered buying a thermometer to give him an idea of when Sophie was feeling worse or better, but he worried that that might be taking things too far and might be considered invading her privacy. He wasn’t too sure, so he held off on buying one just yet.

Another thing that had remained unchanged was Len’s situation with Barry. Len had never replied to that text nor any of the ones he’d received in the following days. It wasn’t that he wanted Barry to just forget about Len and leave him alone. Len liked Barry, he really did. But things were too complicated now. He still didn’t know what to think about the revelation that Barry worked for the CCPD because he simply didn’t have the time to think about it. Sophie was more important, and Len needed to give her his full attention. And if he ended up pissing Barry off along the way and Barry left him because of it… well, Len would just have to deal with that.

Len was still searching for information on metahumans though he was increasingly running out of sources; he stared down at his laptop screen until his eyes felt too dry to continue any longer and then he got up and poured himself a drink of water, wishing that he had something a little stronger instead. While at the sink, he took a look out of the kitchen window to watch Lisa and Sophie playing in the back garden. His sister had continued to be a big help these past few days, but Len knew he couldn’t rely on her forever. She had her own life to get back to. They needed a workable way to deal with this but, so far, they were coming up empty.

As it was, Len and Lisa had made sure that Sophie hadn’t been left alone yet since Andy died. There was always one of them watching over her at all times, just in case. Though Len thought that Sophie hadn’t been doing too bad with dealing with her powers. She had little outbursts every now and then but, for the most part, she was just emitting this low-level frost. At least she seems impervious to it, even if Len and Lisa weren’t. They’d been trying their bests to hide their discomfort though. It was a good thing that winter was here so they could pretend that their thicker layers were due to the weather and nothing else.

Sophie’s words still rung in his head almost constantly.

‘What if I hurt someone?’

Just thinking about it made him feel sick. Len hated that his daughter was being forced to grow up so quickly that she had to worry about hurting people all because of these powers. It made Len realise that she was never going to have a normal life.

Len didn’t want to think that way though. Because when he thought about that, he started questioning the promise he had made to Andy. He began to think about the cold gun which he hadn’t touched in months, stashed away in a safe upstairs.

As Len continued to stare out at his daughter playing on the swing, Len noticed ice crystals forming at the corner of the window. Sophie looked happy. She looked as though Lisa was helping to take her mind off of everything. But looks could be deceiving. Watching the ice creep across his kitchen window, Len knew that Sophie was just putting on a brave face. And that just killed him.

Len had agreed to give Sophie the best choices in life, and because of that he’d been trying to lead a normal life for her. But they had never anticipated this. She was a 5-year-old metahuman who had just lost her mother and had no control over her dangerous powers … she was never going to be normal. So why was Len even trying anymore?

Len would later blame his lack of sleep for his next actions. He quickly picked up his mobile from the kitchen table and typed in a number which he had memorised off by heart. The phone rang and rang and, just as Len was about to give up, it was answered with a grunt and some unintelligible muttering that might have been “what do you want?”

“Hey, Mick. We need to talk.”

Chapter Text

Len tapped his fingers repeatedly against the bar as he waited for Mick to show up. The older man was usually quite punctual, but not today, which meant that this was Mick’s way of purposefully trying Len’s patience. Len supposed he deserved it as they still hadn’t cleared the air over the bodged job that they’d pulled together nearly two years ago. The fact that Mick agreed to meet, that he had even answered the phone in the first place, was a surprise to Len.

He’d ordered them both a whisky on the rocks, but he had already finished drinking his before Mick showed up. Mick scrapped the stool back against the floor and dumped his body unceremoniously into the seat.

“You’ve got five minutes,” Mick muttered as he took a swig of his drink, not even making eye contact with Len.

“I have a daughter.”

Mick froze for about a second. He slowly lowered the glass back down from his lips and placed it onto the bar, then he turned to face his old friend.

“What idiot would choose to have a kid with you?” He asked. There was a hint of a laugh in his voice. Most people wouldn’t be able to hear it underneath his scowl and gruff tone, but Len could. He had known Mick for most of his life.

“Andrea Mendoza,” Len said, and Mick pursed his lips.

“Andy… what was that? Seven years ago?”

“Six.”

“You known all this time?” Mick asked; Len shook his head. “Why’d she tell you now?”

“She had no other choice,” Len admitted. He waved to the bartender and ordered himself and Mick another drink. “She died this week. Cancer.”

“Sucks,” Mick muttered, and Len nodded. Mick was always so short with words, not that he wasn’t smart… just that he didn’t see the point in dragging something out. He was more direct than that. He spoke his mind. It was always something that Len had admired about his friend, though it did sometimes have a tendency to get him into trouble. Mick could handle himself better than anyone Len knew though, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. Their drinks arrived, and Mick downed his in one go before ordering another. “What’s the kid like?”

Len paused, unsure of how to explain everything or even if he should. Mick was trouble. But, then again, so was Len.

“That difficult, huh?” Mick asked, mistaking his silence for an answer. “Guess I shouldn’t be surprised. She’s got Snart blood.” Len laughed at that. It was true that Snart’s were notoriously stubborn and challenging. Though, for the most part, Sophie had somehow skipped past all that misfortune. She had a lot more of her mum in her than she did him, and Len was forever thankful for that. “Why’d you call me here?” Mick eventually asked. “I’m guessing it wasn’t to show me baby pictures.” Len ignored the taunt and focussed on the question.

Why had he called Mick? Why had Len left Sophie under Lisa’s watch to come and meet him tonight? Mick couldn’t help Sophie any more than Len or Lisa could. He wasn’t some expert on metahumans nor was he an expert with kids. But when shit hit the fan in the past, Mick had always been there to help. He was a good friend, and Len had missed him… not that he would acknowledge that aloud.

“I don’t know,” he admitted, and Mick looked openly shocked by the answer.

“Leonard Snart, making a move without a plan?” He muttered and shook his head. “Parenthood has changed you.”

“Maybe it has.” He drained the last of his drink. Len rolled his jaw as he thought, then he checked subtly in the mirror behind the bar to make sure that no one was close enough to overhear his next words. “Have you heard about metahumans?” He asked.

“The freaks with powers?” Mick muttered, and Len nodded, though the word choice grated him a little.

“Sophie, my daughter… she’s one of them.” Mick was quiet as he thought that over.

“What can she do?” He eventually asked.

“Cryokinesis, ice manipulation, whatever you want to call it,” Len said, waving his hand dismissively and then resting his head on top of it.

“That why you look like shit?” Mick muttered, and Len glared at him. “Not getting enough beauty sleep?”

“You try sleeping when you have a grief-stricken 5-year-old metahuman daughter under your roof who freezes everything she touches and has a reoccurring nightmare where she kills her mum,” Len grit out, the truth flowing from him before he even knew what he was saying.

“Sounds like you need to blow off some steam,” Mick muttered after a long pause, and Len sighed.

“Maybe I do.”

[] [] []

Len had ended up introducing Mick to Sophie the day after the meeting in the bar. Sophie had been, understandably, a little scared of Mick at first. He was a big brute of a man, after all. But he also had a soft spot in his heart for broken kids. It was why he’d helped Len out when they’d met in Juvie. It was why he’d stuck around and helped with Lisa after they’d got out. And it was also why he’d forgiven Len so easily the second that Len had brought up his daughter.

Len hadn’t meant to use his daughter in that way, he’d actually figured he’d come away from that meeting with a black eye and a couple of bruised ribs, but that was just how Mick was.

Lisa was happy that they’d reconciled, if only because it took the strain off of herself a little more. She’d pressed pause on her own life this week so she could be here for Sophie and Len appreciated it, but he knew how unfair it was on her to ask this much. He’d told Lisa as much a few days earlier and she’d glared him down, telling him it was a good thing he wasn’t asking then. Like Len, Lisa was fierce when it came to the people she loved. Maybe that was another Snart trait? Len supposed he wouldn’t have minded if Sophie picked that one up from him.

Len had filled Mick in on the promise he’d made to Andy that he would try to live a normal life. Mick had thought that it was a pointless task considering how things had changed this past week since Andy’s death. And Len couldn’t argue that point. Truthfully, he didn’t know if he did want to argue it anyway.

Len had been a criminal for as long as he could remember. It was a part of who he was, and for a long time, Len hadn’t known how to be anything else. Except, now he was a father. Mick was right: it had changed him. Of course, it had. He’d spent his whole life only ever looking out for number one. Even Lisa had only been a side note. He loved his sister, and he would do anything for her. But he hadn’t stayed to protect her from Lewis when she was a kid. He’d got out of that house as soon as he could. Sure, Len had eventually gone back for her, but it was too little too late. Lisa had forgiven him, of course, he had only been a kid himself, and it had been 24 years ago. But Len hadn’t forgiven himself yet. He’d put himself first because that’s what he did. That’s what he’d always done. Until now, that is…

Mick had left with a “think about it”, and Len did. He thought about the adrenaline hit that he got after a heist. He thought about how powerful he felt after a job well done. He yearned for it. But he also thought about Sophie. What would happen to her if Len got locked up? That thought sobered Len pretty quickly. He might have left Lisa but he couldn’t, wouldn’t, leave his daughter.

Lisa had left not long later, and soon Len was putting Sophie to sleep. He hadn’t slept in her room again since that first night, it was too dangerous to risk her having another episode in her sleep, and she’d had nightmares every night so far. It killed Len to tell her that he had to sleep in his own bed, but he could find no other way around it.

He returned downstairs to clean up and then switched his laptop on. It had been nearly a week since Andy had died, but the funeral arrangements still weren’t finished. He checked his emails and went through his checklist, surprised to find there were only 2 items left on his list to complete: flowers and a date. The date was the hard part. He and Andy had discussed what to do after her death, and she had thought it best if Sophie attended the funeral. But Len was worried about what would happen if she lost control of her powers outside of the house. What if someone saw her? What if she hurt them? But how late could Len really push the funeral back? Especially when he had no guarantee that Sophie would learn to control her powers any time soon…

Len was agonising over this when he heard a soft knock against the front door. He frowned and checked the time, seeing that it was nearly 10 o’clock at night. Who would be knocking on at this time?

He felt apprehensive as he put his laptop aside and moved towards the door. He had a large patterned glass window on the front door, and so Len saw the shape of the man on his porch as he approached. It was only once he got closer though that he realised who it was. Len sighed and opened the door to see Barry Allen standing on his porch, brandishing a casserole dish.

“Hey,” Barry said, his smile was soft and sympathetic. To say that Len was surprised to see him was an understatement. Barry had sent him several texts this past week, but Len had yet to reply to a single one. It seemed that Barry was hard to deter once he set his mind to something though. Len was maybe just a little bit thankful about that, he liked Barry. But this whole situation was already complicated enough as it was without adding another person into the mix. Another person who Len wasn’t even sure if he could trust yet…

“Barry,” Len greeted.

“Sorry, I came past a little while ago and saw the lights on, so I thought I’d drop this off,” he said, raising the dish in his hand pointedly. “I would have called first but…” his words trailed off awkwardly. He didn’t call because he didn’t think Len would answer.

“I’ve been busy,” Len said as a way of explanation. It was true, but he knew that it wasn’t a perfect excuse for ignoring Barry’s messages.

“Yeah, of course, I get that! I just… I don’t know… I wanted to let you know that you can lean on me a little if you need to,” he said and then winced just a little. “I know! I know, we only just met. But I like you Len and…” his words drifted off with a flourish of his wrist. “Can we talk inside?” He eventually asked. Len thought about it for a moment and very nearly pushed the door open to invite Barry in. But…

“Now’s not a great time,” he said instead.

“Right… Sorry, I’ll just,” Barry handed Len the dish he was holding. “Here, it’s sausage casserole. A family recipe.” Len looked down at the glass dish in his hands. It smelt good though Sophie was a bit of a picky eater, Len supposed that most kids her age were. He looked back up at Barry, who was looking incredibly crestfallen and already backing away from the house. His mouth was opening and closing just a little as he tried to find the words to say goodbye.

“Barry…” Len found himself saying before the younger man could speak. Barry paused in his retreat and Len suddenly realised that he didn’t know what he wanted to tell him. That Barry should stop texting him and move on? Or that Len hoped they could work this out, but he just needed a bit of time? He didn’t know. And before he could decide, the lights in the hallway flickered out with a pop, the only warning Len had before Sophie started screaming.

Len forgot about everything else, the casserole dish slipping from his fingers, as he turned on his heel and ran upstairs. He could hear Barry following close behind, but that was a problem he would have to deal with later.

The further up the stairs he got, the colder the temperature dropped. He knew before he even got in sight of Sophie’s room that this episode was going to be a bad one and so he prepared himself for that. When he reached the landing, he turned and ran straight into Sophie’s room without even pausing at the ice which covered it. The bright glow of her eyes made his feet falter though. The room was near-pitch black, the only light coming from the moonlight shining in through the crack in the curtains, but Sophie’s eyes glowed an unsettling bright blue which made Len’s heart race. He remembered that they had shone that colour during her first episode right after Len had told her that Andy wasn’t coming home again, but that had been in the morning light and he hadn’t seen them glow like that again since. At night, the blue glow of her eyes was eerie and unsettling against the black of her room. But Len’s shock lasted barely a second before he was continuing again and stooping down to hold Sophie in his arms.

She was colder than Len had ever felt, her touch burning his skin even through the layers of her thick comforter and his wool jumper. But he just gritted his teeth through the pain and wrapped his arms tighter around his screaming and crying child. Len wished he could do something to help her and knowing that he couldn’t felt like a knife through his heart.

Len was very aware of Barry’s presence behind, standing stock-still in the ice-covered doorway to Sophie’s bedroom. But Len was too preoccupied trying to comfort his daughter, who was sobbing loudly into his sweater and burning his chest with her tears, to be able to spare his boyfriend any of his time.

It was only when Barry began to slowly move towards them that Len looked his way, his eyes having mostly adjusted to the dark room. Len was about to tell Barry to get back but was shocked silent by how calm Barry looked. Len remembered how scared he had been the first time he’d seen Sophie’s powers; he remembered the look of terror in Lisa’s eyes too… but Barry was barely even fazed by it all…

Barry crouched beside Len at the side of Sophie’s bed, visibly shaking from the cold emanating off of her but trying his best not to show it.

“Hey, Sophie,” Barry whispered, gaining her attention. Len started trying to flex his fingers as he felt them becoming numb. “Do you remember me? Barry, from Halloween?” Sophie slowly nodded. She’d stopped wailing now, but she was still sobbing heavily. Len was becoming more and more tired as he sat knelt there, the ice in his lungs stealing his breath. “What does it feel like? Like power thrumming in your veins?” He asked, and Sophie nodded again. But then she pulled away and buried her head back into Len’s chest. “Hey, no, calm down,” Barry continued.

He looked as though he was going to reach and touch her shoulder but thought better of it before he’d made contact. A wise choice. Len was wearing thick gloves, but his own hands felt like icicles. Len felt his mind becoming a little fuzzy. He really wanted to lie down and close his eyes.

“Don’t pull away from it, Sophie,” Barry continued, Sophie turned back to look at him. “Focus on it, feel it. There’s no reason to be scared of your powers. They’re a part of you now. You just have to accept it. Now take a deep breath, like this: in…” Barry breathed in, and Len noticed Sophie copying him. “And hold it right up here for a few seconds,” Barry said, his voice all high pitched and squeaky which made Sophie laugh despite her tears. Barry let go of his breath and shook his head in fake disappointment. “You were supposed to hold it,” he reminded her, and she nodded. Len blinked in surprise as he thought he felt her warming up a little bit. “Let’s do this again, shall we. In… and out,” he said, and Sophie copied him. “In… and out.”

Barry continued coaching Sophie’s breathing, but he glanced momentarily away from her and towards Len. Len couldn’t say what his own face looked like then… he felt completely mystified by Barry. Len had tried so hard and failed to get Sophie to calm down over this past week. He’d given up trying to stop these episodes and thought that he just needed to wait her out instead. But here Barry was, completely diffusing the situation in only a few seconds. Barry was better at looking after Sophie than Len was. That thought stung worse than any of the marks Sophie had left on his skin.

“Your nightmare wasn’t real,” Barry told Sophie, slow and calm. “You’re safe. Your dad will make sure of that.”

“Always,” Len vowed.

No one would ever hurt Sophie, not under his watch.

“You don’t need to be scared of your powers,” Barry repeated. This time he did reach out and touch Sophie’s shoulder. “Accept them. They’re a part of you. You can control them. Just keep breathing.” Len could feel Sophie nodding against his chest. He looked down in time to see the bright blue drain from her eyes as her powers dissipated. But it was more than just that… she was beginning to feel warm again. For the first time in a week, Sophie was no longer projecting that cold field. She wasn’t using her powers at all. Barry hadn’t just coached her through an episode, he’d given Sophie her first sense of control over her meta abilities.

Len looked back up at Barry like he was an alien; he couldn’t control his expression, but it didn’t really matter because Barry seemed to be purposefully avoiding his gaze now. After a few more seconds had passed and the ice carpeting every inch of Sophie’s room had dissipated, not melted just… disappeared without a trace, Barry stood back up.

“I’ll be downstairs,” Barry whispered, and Len could only nod. He ended up picking Sophie up and tucking her back into her bed. She was already falling asleep as though her powers had drained all of her energy right out of her. Len kissed her forehead and stroked her hair, waiting for several minutes to make sure she wasn’t going to wake back up. But she was out like a light.

Eventually, Len stood and quietly backed out of the room, leaving the door completely open. After the first 2 nightmares, Len had gotten tired of replacing the batteries in Sophie’s night light, which always stopped working following one of her episodes, and so he’d taken to just leaving the door open and the landing light on. He’d also taken to having a surplus of fuses stashed around the house so whenever one blew, he could change it quickly enough. He did that right away once he got downstairs and the lights turned back on throughout the house.

Idly, Len remembered the glass casserole dish that he’d dropped which had smashed all over his hallway floor. But Barry must have cleaned the mess up become there wasn’t a mark or shard of glass in sight.

Barry was sitting at the kitchen table, anxiously waiting for Len to return. Len stayed quiet as he entered the room. He stared Barry down for a second before turning to grab a bottle of whiskey and a glass.

“Want one?” He asked, moving to grab some ice from his freezer.

“No… No, I’m good,” Barry said. Len took his time making his drink, as long as was possible to pour some alcohol over ice… he thought about grabbing some coca-cola out of the fridge to water it down just so he could take a few extra seconds before he had to face Barry again, but the vintage was too good for him to waste with mixers. All too soon, Len was taking a seat opposite Barry. He took a sip of his drink before he spoke.

“How did you do that?” He asked, direct and straightforward. There was something here that Barry wasn’t telling Len and Len needed to know about it now. Barry was sitting with his elbows on the table, leaning forward and interlocking his fingers together. He frowned down at his hands for a moment before he spoke.

“I… err… I’m part of the CCPD’s metahuman task force,” he said, and Len was still, his hand tightening around his glass.

“And what are you going to do about my daughter?” He asked, his voice low and cold. Barry frowned back up at him.

Do?” He asked, shaking his head and feigning ignorance.

“You hunt metahumans for a living,” Len drawled, and Barry’s eyes went wide.

“What? No!” He was quick to say, sitting up abruptly. “We don’t hunt anyone. We’re the police; we only go after criminals.” Barry winced a little at his wording, seeming to remember that Len just so happened to be one of those criminals that Barry had once been chasing. “We don’t just go around arresting metas. Sometimes we even get to help them. That’s… that’s why I knew what to do with Sophie. I’ve seen a lot of young metas getting talked down and into controlling their abilities, I’ve even done it myself once or twice. There’s a knack to it,” he finished with a shrug and Len frowned, leaning back in his chair and taking another sip of his drink to buy him a moment. He wanted to believe Barry, he almost did, but he was sure that there was something else that the kid was keeping from him.

“If that were true,” Len said, placing his drink slowly back on the table and watching a drop of condensation run down the rim. “Then why do you look so…” Len pursed his lips and looked back up, lifting his hand, he waved a finger around to encompass Barry’s general energy. “Nervous?”

Barry gave a half-hearted laugh, and Len narrowed his eyes. It was too obviously-fake for Len to buy it and so he just gave a fake smile in return.

“What can I say, I’m always nervous around you,” Barry said. His eyes were warm, and his smile was a touch self-deprecating and Len… Len had a lot to think about. He lifted his hand to his face and began to rub tiredly at his eyes.

“It’s been a long day,” he said, hoping to disarm Barry. It seemed to work because, when he looked back up, Barry was giving him that sympathetic smile again. “A long week, actually.”

“I should let you get some rest,” he said, standing. “But… I’ll see you soon, right?” He asked, and Len nodded. Barry knew too much now for Len to fade him out. He knew about who Len was, where he lived, and now Barry even knew about Sophie’s powers. Len would have to keep a close eye on him.

Len showed him out of the house and said goodbye, watching Barry walk down the drive and out of his garden before he closed the door and returned to his drink. He sat in the kitchen silently, thinking, as he sipped drink after drink. It was only after his eyes began to ache and blur in the early hours of the morning that he finally went to bed.

[] [] []

When Lisa walked up Len’s driveway, she mentally prepared herself for the onslaught of cold air that would hit her the second that she opened her brother’s front door. But it didn’t come. Lisa was pleasantly surprised to find that the temperature in Len’s house was actually warmer than the temperature outside.

She blinked stupidly at nothing for a full five seconds before regaining her composure enough to close the door behind her. She immediately went looking for Lenny, following the sound of laughter through the house. She came across Mick and Sophie playing with a dollhouse in the playroom and couldn’t hold back her laugh at the sight. Mick glared up at her in a way which clearly said: ‘tell anyone about this, and you’re dead’. Lisa thought about digging her phone out of her pocket to take a picture, but before she could Sophie was jumping up and running to hug her hello. And Lisa was too shocked by the fact that Sophie was warm again to remember about her future blackmail material.

“Hey,” Lisa said softly. “How are you?”

“I’m okay,” Sophie smiled. “Uncle Mick is doing all the funny voices,” she said, pointing to where Mick was still holding two dolls, crouched forward over a pink dollhouse. The glare was still present but it softened and he winked when Sophie looked over at him. “It’s really funny.”

“I bet it is,” Lisa nodded. “Where’s your daddy?”

“Makin’ lunch,” Sophie said, and Lisa smiled, ruffled her niece’s hair, and left her with Mick to go on search for her brother. When she got into the kitchen, Lenny was just cutting up a grilled cheese sandwich and placing the two halves onto a purple Rapunzel plate for Sophie. He looked up and nodded once Lisa entered the room.

“Sophie’s not cold anymore,” she said straight away, and Len nodded.

“I don’t know if it’ll last,” he said, and Lisa rolled her eyes. It was so much like Lenny to always jump to the negatives rather than just enjoying the good things when they came around.

“What happened?”

Len looked up at her briefly and then back down at the plate in his hands. He placed it back onto the counter and then leaned back, taking his time to arrange his thoughts. Lisa waited impatiently but, before her brother could speak, there was a knock at the front door. Len gave her a quick smile as he walked past her and out into the hallway to answer it. Lisa picked up Sophie’s plate, intent on taking her niece her lunch. But when she got out into the hall, she got a quick look at the man at the front door.

He was tall and young with a flop of brown hair and a giant smile. He wore a sweater vest of all things, looking like a teacher’s assistant. A cute teacher’s assistant, though. He looked entirely too comfortable with Len to be anyone other than her brother’s new boyfriend. Curious, Lisa took a step back out of the view of the front door as she listened in.

"Hey,” the guy said. “I brought another casserole… in a metal dish this time. The last one was a pain to clean up."

"Barry..." Len started, confirming Lisa’s theory that this was the unseen boyfriend. But whatever Len was going to say, Barry interrupted him.

"Look, you've been through a lot lately. I know. But you're not on your own here: I can help, I want to help." He sounded earnest, and Lisa smiled to herself at that. Lenny really needed someone who was looking out for him.

"I appreciate everything you did last night," Len started again. "But Sophie is easily overwhelmed right now... I think the fewer people around, the better." Lisa felt like face-palming. Len was always pushing people away, and it seemed like Barry was no exception. She was going to have to have a serious talk with her brother and soon.

"Right. Yeah. Of course. Say no more," Barry said. Lisa could hear the dejected tone of his voice from here. "Just, err, call me if you need help. I'll be right over."

"I'm sure you will," Len said. Lisa heard the door close, and so she slipped back out of her hiding place to approach Len. He had a casserole dish in his hands and was looking down at it as though it was a foreign object.

"Why'd you do that?" She asked, trying her best to not sound disapproving just yet. "He was cute."

"Because..." Lenny said slowly, looking up at her with a carefully blank expression. "I think he's the Flash."

Chapter Text

Cisco wasn’t having a good day. Nor a good month, actually. He’d felt… off ever since Dante’s birthday, though Cisco couldn’t quite identify what had changed. It had all started with a dream. No, not a dream, a nightmare. In which, Dr Wells had turned out to be the evil yellow speedster…

Cisco wasn’t sure what had brought the nightmare about. It was just one of those things… not every dream had to mean something… right?

But, no matter what Cisco told himself, the memory of the nightmare lingered on. And sometimes, in that haze of sleep right after waking up, Cisco could have sworn that the dream had been real. Sometimes he could even feel the ghost of pain in his chest where Wells’ hand had vibrated through his heart.

It was just a dream. It had to have only been a dream! But as the days went by, the nightmare refused to fade, and Cisco found himself getting increasingly more uncomfortable around his mentor. It was beginning to become a problem.

Like, right now, for example, Wells was sitting across the other side of the cortex and talking amicably to Caitlin about a project she was working on… and Cisco’s skin was crawling. So, he dove himself into his work instead of facing the problem. Because, well, Cisco didn’t even know what the problem was! And it wasn’t like he could just un-dream his nightmare. He would just have to wait for all of this to fade.

Cisco put his headset on and started listening to the police scanner as Barry ran through the streets on his daily patrol. He’d only been out for half an hour or so, but with Cisco’s help, he had already stopped a robbery and put out a large warehouse fire. Now Cisco was hearing about an incident downtown which sounded suspiciously meta.

“Yo, Barry,” Cisco said into his microphone. “We have reports of some weird shit going down on Second Street.”

“-Care to elaborate?-” Barry laughed into his comms. “-’Weird shit’ could be anything.-”

“Something about ice? I don’t know, Dude. The details are a little unclear,” he admitted. He usually liked to give Barry more information to go off of, but the reports for this one were a bit jumbled. Cisco watched the little red dot on his screen which signified Barry’s location slow to a stop, frowning when he noticed that Barry was still half a town away from Second Street. Cisco was about to ask what was wrong, but Barry’s dot was moving again, and so he brushed it off as a glitch in the system… or maybe Barry had paused to help an old lady cross the road or to get a cat down from a tree or some other mundane hero business? Yeah, that was plausible.

Barry finally arrived on location a few seconds later, and Cisco sat back as he waited for his friend to give a rundown of the scene. But before Barry could say anything, Cisco picked up on another voice on Barry’s end. It had a familiar twang to it that Cisco was struggling to place.

“-Glad I got your attention, Flash!-” The man said. “-I was beginning to think that you weren’t going to show.-”

“What is it?” Cisco asked.

“-Captain Cold…-” Barry said, and Cisco tensed. “-And he has a hostage.-”

[] [] []

When Cisco had told Barry that the issue was ice-related, Barry’s first thought had been of little Sophie. What if she had been out in public and lost control of her powers? Barry had seen first-hand what that looked like a few nights ago. He could only imagine how dangerous her powers could be. What if she hurt someone? What if she hurt herself? What if she hurt Len?

Barry had found his feet slowing and eventually coming to a stop without his permission, and he took a moment to compose himself again before he started running. When he’d arrived on Second Street with his heart in his throat, there was ice everywhere and not a person in sight. He looked around and listened carefully, trying to find any signs of that scared little girl. But there was nothing here. Until, eventually, there was a voice.

“Glad I got your attention, Flash!” A man hollered behind him, and Barry stiffened as he remembered that Sophie wasn’t the only one in the Snart family who could make a scene like this. Barry’s heart was racing as he slowly turned around to face Len, blurring his face as he did so. “I was beginning to think that you weren’t going to show.”

“-What is it?-” Cisco asked over the comms. For a moment, Barry wasn’t sure if he could speak. The words got stuck in his throat as he took in the scene. But if he didn’t answer, his team would get worried.

“Captain Cold…” Barry eventually managed to whisper, his tongue feeling numb. “And he has a hostage.”

Len’s grin disturbed Barry. It was cold and tense, nothing like the warm smiles Len had offered up to Barry so freely so recently. He was wearing his parka, the hood pulled up as well as the goggles. But worse so, he was holding the cold gun pointed directly at a young woman.

The woman had dishevelled blonde hair, and she was quietly sobbing, scared for her life.

“It’s okay,” Barry reassured her, disguising his voice so that Len couldn’t recognise it… but also because he knew that his words would only come out sounding shaky and unsure if he didn’t. “It’s okay…” he repeated quieter, this time it was aimed at himself. It was going to be okay. He could do this. Len hadn’t said anything else yet, he was just grinning that disturbing grin Barry’s way… it made him feel physically sick. “So, you’re back to being a criminal then… Snart?” Barry called, taking a deep breath to give himself strength. Len shrugged dramatically, though he managed to keep the hand which was holding the cold gun at the blonde woman’s back completely steady.

“Who said I ever stopped?” He snarked back. Barry stiffened even further. Was that true? Len had essentially told Barry that he’d stopped for Sophie’s sake. But had that been a lie? Had this all been a lie? Barry shook his head and stepped closer.

“No… I don’t believe that,” he said. Len had stopped thieving. This, whatever this was, was something else.

Careful, Flash,” Len taunted, pressing the cold gun closer against the woman’s back, she let out a scared whimper in response. “Take another step… and this woman may not live to regret it.” Barry froze. All the signs in front of him pointed to Len being nothing more than a criminal, a bad guy, a villain. But there was something in the back of Barry’s head that told him it wasn’t right. There was more to this situation than met the eye.

“What are you up to?” He asked because Len wasn’t looking like he was about to make a run for it. He didn’t seem worried that the Flash had caught up to him either. In fact, he appeared to be utterly calm as though this whole scene was going exactly to plan. And then there was the ice… Barry realised that it covered everything. There was no pattern to the scene, nor any apparent reason that Len would be shooting at a lamppost with such concentration to cover it entirely in a couple of inches of ice, unless… “You wanted my attention; why?”

Because that’s what it was! Nothing else made sense… Len had wanted to draw Barry here.

“I’m a thief, Flash,” Len drawled. “This is just what I do. And it’s more fun with an audience.” Barry shook his head again. He wouldn’t believe that. He wouldn’t. “Fine,” Len said suddenly, tilting his head and lifting his free hand up, finger splayed out dramatically. “You drew it out of me.” He closed his hand again to form a fist and looked up at Barry again. “You and that team of yours back at STAR Labs, you have a friend of mine: Shawna Baez,” Len announced, making Barry frown. “I want to know where she is. What do you do with all these metas that suddenly disappear after fighting you, Flash?” He accused, and Barry just blinked back at Len. He had not been expecting that.

“-Peek a Boo, I’m on it,-” Cisco piped up over the comms, reminding Barry that he had multiple witnesses to this conversation.

“I’m not releasing her,” Barry said slowly.

“Well then, I’m not releasing this hostage,” Len replied, drawing Barry’s eyes back to the crying blonde woman that Len was holding the cold gun against.

“-That’s strange,-” Cisco said in Barry’s ear. “-I can’t find any connection between Cold and Peek a Boo.-”

“I’ll settle for some information, Flash,” Len drawled. “Give me something to work with here. Or this girl will pay your price.” He ended by prodding the woman with his gun to emphasise his words.

“We… have a prison for them,” Barry answered slowly, looking Len right in the eyes and taking a cautious step forward.

“-Careful, Barry,-” Cisco warned over the comms. “-We can’t give Cold anything. Who knows why he wants this information,-” he continued, but Barry just ignored him: Barry knew Len better than that, or at least… he hoped he did.

“I thought as much,” Len snarked back. “Holding them without trial… not very heroic of you.” And that… well that kind of stung, actually. Len was right. The original idea behind the pipeline was to try to reform the metas. But they’d been too busy to even attempt that.

“Why are you so interested in metahumans?” Barry asked suddenly as something clicked into place: the missing piece of the puzzle and the reason for this whole scene.

“I told you, Flash.” Len drawled. He straightened up a little, looking tense at Barry’s thought process. Bingo.

“-Police ETA, 60 seconds. Stall Cold a little longer, and we’ve got him!-” Cisco said, the words making the hairs on Barry’s arms stand on end. He didn’t want to ‘get’ Len. “-An ambulance should be there soon too.-

“Yeah, Baez is your friend,” Barry repeated and shook his head. “Except… there’s no mention of you in her file. Nor her in yours.” He took another step closer. Len wasn’t smiling anymore. “So, what’s the real reason?” Len looked about ready to bolt now as Barry slowly closed the gap between them. But then he powered down his cold gun, and Barry let out the breath that he’d been holding.

“Think fast,” Len said suddenly, just as Barry had begun to let his guard down, pushing the hostage forward at Barry. He caught her and steadied her. But when he looked up, Len had gone.

“Are you okay?” He asked the woman and waited for her to nod before he sat her down on a nearby bench and ran after Len. The police would be here soon enough anyway, and she wasn’t hurt, she would be fine.

Barry was surprised to catch up to Len quickly, having expected him to take the chance to hide and get out of sight. Maybe he’d expected Barry not to come after him? He was walking leisurely down an alleyway, and Barry took the opportunity to grab him before he could draw his cold gun again. He pushed Len up against the nearest wall, his arm held vertical along Len’s chest to restrict his movement.

“Don’t you have a hostage to console?” Len snarked, and Barry shook his head.

“Cut the crap, Snart. You need my help,” Barry pressed. Len clenched his jaw in response, not even trying to grab at his gun. This close, Barry could see Len’s eyes behind the goggles. He looked sad. “Or… you know someone who does,” he prodded further, urging Len to tell him the truth. Barry couldn’t help as the Flash if Len didn’t give him something to work with. “Who is it?”

“My daughter,” Len finally gave in, his shoulders sinking. Cisco was oddly quiet back at STAR Labs. “She can’t control her powers,” Len said. His voice was no longer sharp like his Captain Cold persona, but it wasn’t warm either. It was raw and hurt, like an exposed wire. Like the words physically hurt him coming out. Barry nodded, moving back a step and releasing Len.

“You made the right decision coming to me,” he said, trying to reassure his boyfriend. Was Len even still Barry’s boyfriend? Barry hoped he was, though after the events of this past week, Barry supposed that term was now up for debate.

“Yeah, I’m not so sure about that yet,” Len muttered, readjusting his parka. Barry could hear sirens approaching in the distance, and he had a decision to make: should he turn Len in for the property damage and taking of a hostage? Or should he get them both out of there? In the end, it wasn’t really much of a choice.

“I will help you,” Barry vowed to him. He wouldn’t let Len, or Sophie, down.

“-Whoa, Barry,-” Cisco interjected over the comms. “-Are you sure that’s a good idea. This is Captain Cold we’re talking about. How can we say he even has a daughter? He might be lying to us!-”

Barry ignored Cisco’s warning. An easy thing to do when he already knew the truth.

“Hold on tight,” he told Len, stepping closer. Len looked confused for a second, but Barry didn’t wait any longer before scooping him up and carrying him to STAR Labs. He dropped out of superspeed in the corridor outside of the cortex and watched Len stumble back in shock, mouth agape. It was kind of fun to watch, actually. Len steadied and orientated himself within a matter of seconds.

“So, that’s what that’s like,” he muttered, whether it was to himself or to Barry was unclear. “We’re in STAR Labs?” He asked, and Barry nodded. There was no point taking him anywhere else when he already knew that the Flash was affiliated with STAR Labs and had met both Cisco and Caitlin before.

“Come on,” he said softly, motioning for Len to follow as he walked towards the cortex. His heart was racing as he went. Was this a bad idea? Maybe he should have conferred with the rest of the team before bringing Len back here? Barry didn’t believe that Len was up to anything malicious, but the team deserved their vote too.

Caitlin, Cisco, and Wells were all tensely waiting for them as they entered the room. Yep. He definitely should have consulted them first. But it was too late to turn back now… Len only spared them a glance as he walked in behind Barry. Then he kept moving quickly, looking up and examining the whole room.

“I guess this is where the magic happens,” Len drawled, his walls back up again. He then turned back to face them all. “Cisco, Caitlin,” he greeted, making the pair stiffen. “Lovely to see you again.”

“How do you know their names?” Wells asked, protective and angry, wheeling forward. Len just shrugged and smiled, having no idea of the dangerous man before him. Barry shook that thought away: he had no proof that Wells was up to anything untoward.

“Just because I’ve been out of the game doesn’t mean I didn’t do my research. I thought it would…” Len paused and shrugged dramatically, “come in handy one day. And, trust me, I never forget a face.” That last sentence he said directly to Barry. For a moment, Barry worried that Len recognised him. But that couldn’t be… could it? He was blurring both his face and his voice. And, anyway, surely Len would have said something if he knew who he was. Len quickly moved on and began examining the room again. His eyes landed on the stand where the Flash suit usually stood, and he stayed focused on it for several seconds.

“Dude… why are you blurring your face?” Cisco asked Barry, effectively breaking the silence. Barry froze, his eyes going wide as he searched for an acceptable reason to give. Not that anyone would be able to see that reaction anyway.

“Err… no reason. I just…” Barry didn’t know what to say. As far as his team was concerned, Len had never met Barry Allen and would have no way of recognising him under the cowl.

“How about you turn it off then?” Len drawled, and Barry looked up to see that he was facing their way again. “It’s giving me a migraine.” Barry looked to Cisco and Caitlin, both of them shrugged in agreement, and so Barry just nodded and slowly stopped using his vibrations to his advantage. He instantly turned to lean against a desk, keeping his head down in an attempt to conceal his face slightly from Len’s view.

“Your daughter,” Caitlin said finally, drawing Len’s attention. “What’s her name?”

“Sophie.”

“Sophie Snart,” Cisco scoffed. “A bit alliterative, isn’t it?”

“Sophie Mendoza,” Len corrected, and Barry could picture him rolling his eyes, though he couldn’t really see it anymore.

“Huh. You don’t look Filipino,” Cisco muttered.

“It was her mother’s name.”

“Was?” Caitlin asked, picking up on the right point. Barry breathed a sigh of relief that the team was taking all of Len’s attention. The less he saw of Barry’s face under this cowl, the better. Though he did risk peaking up at his boyfriend subtly.

“She died last week.”

“And that’s when Sophie’s powers manifested?” Caitlin asked, and Len simply nodded. “That’s not uncommon. A lot of metas require some sort of traumatic event to occur before they can access their abilities. What can she do?” Len stiffened his shoulders, remaining silent.

“Come on, Dude,” Cisco complained. “We’re trusting you here. You could at least give us the same respect.”

“I’m here, aren’t I?” Len countered, sounding annoyed. He paused again before continuing. “She controls ice.”

“You’re… you’re kidding, right?” Cisco muttered, and Barry turned to glare at him, but Cisco wasn’t looking his way as he seemed to be keeping his eyes trained wholly on Leonard Snart as though he was just waiting for him to pull the cold gun on them.

“Don’t be jealous just because you’re not as cool as us, Cisco,” Len drawled, and Barry rolled his eyes. This was going to be a long day.

“I think we should get back on track, shouldn’t we?” Wells asked, interrupting whatever Cisco’s retort was going to be. Barry peaked back just enough to see Len smirking at the pouting engineer. Wells turned towards Len. “You can’t control your daughter,” he said, and Barry winced at the wording. Len’s eyes went black with rage.

“She’s a human being, not a dog,” he grit out. He looked angrier than Barry had ever seen him and didn’t even bother to try to hide it. Barry thought that Len was above hitting a guy in a wheelchair, but he didn’t feel like testing that theory, so he jumped in.

“I think what Dr Wells was trying to say is, you can’t control Sophie’s powers,” Barry interjected, knowing full well that it would bring Len’s attention back his way, but seeing no other way around it. Barry supposed he just had to hope that Len would be affected by the ‘butcher-on-the-bus’ phenomenon and not recognise Barry out of context. They’d only known each other for a couple of weeks, so maybe Barry would get lucky.

“Of course,” Wells agreed. His voice sounded dry, though, and Barry had to wonder whether Wells had made Len angry intentionally. “However, unfortunately… I don’t really see how we can help with that without meeting her.”

“That’s not happening,” Len said abruptly.

“Well, then. I guess that’s that. I trust you can show yourself out?” Wells dismissed, and Barry had to jump in the way again.

“Woah, come on, let’s not be hasty. I’m sure we can figure something out,” he insisted, looking to his friends for their help. Cait looked determined, and Barry knew that she was on his side. And, surprisingly, Cisco looked as though he wanted to help too. Neither of them seemed to like the idea of letting down an innocent girl, despite who her father might have been.

“Fine, if you want to work with a murderer, then so be it,” Wells said, angry, rolling out of the cortex and leaving the rest of team Flash alone with Captain Cold.

“And I thought I was cold,” Len drawled, and Barry huffed a small laugh. He glanced back to see that Len was watching him closely. Anxiously, Barry averted his gaze and moved to sit at the desk where he could hide slightly behind a computer.

“You were telling us about your daughter,” Cait prompted, drawing Len’s attention back to herself. He spent the next twenty minutes obligatorily answering all of their questions as Caitlin and Cisco wrote his answers down and discussed various triggers.

For the most part, Barry just sat back and watched. But, if he’d hoped that staying quiet would make Len forget about him, he was sorely mistaken. Len would glance at Cisco or Caitlin whenever they asked him something, but the rest of the time his eyes remained trained on Barry, watching him like a hawk would watch its prey. It was a little hot if Barry was honest. Sexy and dangerous. Which shouldn’t have been as good a combination as it was. At one point, while Cisco and Caitlin started writing on a board and discussing ideas animatedly, having seemed to forget by this point that they should be wary and watchful of Len, he took the opportunity to get up and slink over to where Barry was sitting. His eyes glided lazily up and down Barry’s body, lingering in places which made Barry feel bare.

Len fell into the other seat and promptly pushed himself off of the desk to roll his chair closer to Barry’s. Barry tensed as Len leaned in close, smelling faintly of cologne.

“You really are the Scarlet speedster, aren’t you?” He drawled, drawing attention to the heat which had been clinging to Barry’s skin for near the entire time Len had been here, and Barry laughed breathlessly. Len dropped his voice even lower and smirked. “I bet that blush goes all the way down.”

Barry’s mouth fell open, then he promptly shut it again as he had to swallow thickly before he could summon any words.

“You’re smooth for someone so frosty,” he said back, glad that he was sitting down as his legs began to feel a little weak. Len let out a surprised laugh, and it made Barry feel all warm again inside: it felt like so long since he’d last heard that sound. Barry found himself smiling despite it all.

“I’m a lot of things which might surprise you,” Len drawled, swivelling around a little on the chair to face Barry, though it meant that he had to move back a little to do so and Barry instantly missed the warmth emanating from his body. “Though I must warn you, I like to drag things out nice and slow.” Barry’s eyes were drawn south as Len shifted in his seat, slouching down and spreading his legs enticingly.

Barry didn’t know what he would have done after that because, the next thing he knew, someone new was storming into the cortex. Barry jumped to his feet instantly and tried not to look too guilty as Joe’s eyes landed on him. Len sat back, staring up at Barry for a few more seconds before he lazily spun his chair around to face Joe.

“Ah, Detective West, is it?” Len drawled. “What a pleasant surprise.”

Snart,” Joe growled, his voice low and angry, as though Len’s name was an obscene cuss which tasted foul on his tongue.

“I prefer Captain Cold nowadays,” Len drawled. Joe silently glared him down, and Len returned it effortlessly. Barry looked between the two of them, and then over to where Caitlin and Cisco had stopped writing down ideas on the board and generally looked spooked. He knew he had to step in before this escalated.

“Joe, err, Snart needs our help,” Barry said, stepping forward and drawing Joe’s gaze, though Len’s eyes remained trained on the Detective in the room.

“Oh, I know,” Joe said through gritted teeth. “Wells called me and told me about this insane idea you had to help a wanted criminal. I was hoping he’d gone mad but, no, seems he was telling the truth.”

Wells. Of course, it was Wells. Barry tried not to let his own personal suspicions of the man affect the situation, though; maybe Wells had had good intentions when he called Joe?

“Technically, we’re not helping Cold, we’re helping his daughter,” Cisco piped in and then cowered once Joe’s glare turned his way.

“No matter which way you try to spin it, you’re letting a wanted man sit freely in here rather than arresting him,” Joe bit out. Then he turned to Len. “I should be on my way to your crime scene. Maybe I could make a detour to the precinct with you in the back seat.”

“I’d like to see you try,” Len bristled, and Barry had to physically step between the pair of them to stop it from escalating further.

“Okay, just… take a deep breath,” he told them both, looking at Joe. When he turned to glance back over at Len, he caught the way his boyfriend had obviously been staring at his ass before Len’s eyes roamed back up his body to his face, a sly smile playing on his lips. Barry blushed and had to hope that no one else in the room had seen it.

“Tell you what,” Joe said, drawing Barry’s gaze again. “He gives back what he took, and maybe I’ll consider this.” Barry frowned at Joe for a moment before turning back around fully to face Len.

“You stole something!” Barry accused, and Len’s smirk slowly grew more prominent.

“Guilty,” he drawled with a quick shrug. He dug the item out of his parka and chucked it Barry’s way. Barry caught the necklace pendent effortlessly, looking up to glare at Len who just rolled his eyes and leant back in his seat once more. “What? I got bored waiting for you to show up. So, really, this is your fault.”

“I still think that the more prominent issue was the whole, you know, hostage thing,” Cisco muttered.

What?” Joe erupted. He must not have heard the full report yet from the CCPD. “Flash, can I talk to you for a minute?” Joe didn’t give him time to answer before he grabbed Barry by his arm and dragged him out of the cortex to talk more privately. He stopped once he was far enough down the corridor and stared his foster son down. “We can’t be working with this guy!”

“Joe I… I know what you’re thinking.”

“What I’m thinking is that guy is a murderer, a thief, and a liar,” Joe said, pointing back down the corridor to the cortex.

“But, it’s not even about Len-ard,” Barry said, stumbling over his boyfriend’s name. Joe didn’t seem to notice. “It’s about his daughter; she’s five years old and has meta powers. Dangerous ones. She could hurt someone!”

“Considering who her father is, she probably will. But it won’t be an accident. In my experience, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“You don’t really think that,” Barry said, feeling a little hurt despite himself. “I know you don’t. If you did, then why did you ever take me in? You were certain that my dad killed my mum. So… what? Did you think I was going to grow up to be a criminal too?”

“This is different, Bear,” Joe’s voice was a little softer but no more relenting. “This is not about you, it’s about the Snarts. They’re bad news, all of them, they always have been. I know you like to see the good in people, and I commend you for that, but you have to draw a line somewhere. And this is where it should be. If you help Leonard Snart, then he’s only going to find a way to use his daughter’s powers against you,” he said. “Maybe if we arrest Snart, take his daughter into a safe home…” Joe began to postulate, but Barry shut him down.

“No,” he said firmly.

“Barry…” Joe looked apologetic all of a sudden, his voice going even softer still. “I know I made the wrong call arresting your father. But this is different. Snart is guilty and dangerous, and he needs to pay for-“

“I said, no,” Barry cut his foster father off. His voice was angrier and louder than he’d intended, and he felt lightning crackle at his fingertips. He knew that he himself had been trying to arrest Len only a few months ago, but that was before. “We’re helping him,” Barry said, his voice commanding in a way he’d never really spoken before. Especially not to Joe. Barry usually welcomed the advice of his friends and family, but he was not about to take Sophie away from her father. Not without at least trying to help them first.

Joe clenched his jaw and Barry saw that he wanted to argue. But he held it back. Joe was still getting used to Barry being in charge, but he was: this was the Flash’s team, and Joe was only there to help out.

There was a noise at the end of the corridor, and Barry turned back around to see Len walking out of the cortex, followed quickly by Cisco and Caitlin.

“As much as I hate to cut this short,” Len drawled, sauntering over to them. “My babysitter will surely be getting antsy by now. So, what’s the verdict?”

“We’re going to help you,” Barry said, his voice leaving no room for argument from Joe. Len’s eyes flickered from Barry’s face to Joe’s anyway. And, slowly, Joe nodded.

“Fine,” Joe said to Barry. “We’ll try it your way.” He turned toward Len then and took a threatening step forward, pointing a finger in his face. “But I’m keeping a close eye on you, Snart; and if you even look at the Flash, or Cisco, or Caitlin, or anyone the wrong way, I’m taking you straight to Iron Heights.”

“Do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars,” Len drawled, as a way of agreement, and Barry rolled his eyes.

Chapter Text

Len showed up back in STAR Labs the next morning, dressed in the parka again with the cold gun strapped to his thigh. Wells didn’t wheel himself out of the room the second that Len showed up this time since that tactic clearly hadn’t made a difference before, though he seemed to be doing his very best to not pay the man any attention.

Barry didn’t like it, but he pretended that he was completely fine. Because, more importantly than Wells, the rest of Team Flash had already seemed to relax a little around Len. And that felt good in multiples ways; it felt like, perhaps, their relationship was a little less doomed than it could have been. If his friends could accept Len, then maybe… just maybe, everything could work out.

“Here, catch!” Cisco shouted, tossing a small box Len’s way. Len caught it easily and opened it up to take out two small child-sized bracelets while Cisco continued to speak. “You said you were having the most issues because of Sophie’s nightmares, so put these on her while she sleeps and you’ll have no more worries.” Len stared intensely at the silver bracelets in his hand. Then he lifted his glare to Cisco’s face.

"What is this?" Len asked, his voice a touch darker than his usual drawl.

"They’re power dampeners," Cisco said, squirming under Len’s gaze. And Barry felt like facepalming, as though he had jinxed himself without even speaking the words aloud.

"Really?” Len asked. “Because this looks suspiciously like handcuffs."

"That's…”  Cisco paused. Unsure. “That's because it is. Okay, but wait!” He raised his hands in a defensive manner as Len clenched his jaw. “That's only a temporary thing! I've been making them with the intention of giving them to the CCPD to help with arresting meta criminals. So, I already had the design ready for these. And, also, I thought the adjustable size would be useful here, since I don't know how big Sophie is," Cisco explained. "But I fully intend on making something a little more suitable. It just might take me a few days."

The room was tense and, for a moment, Barry worried that he would have to step in between Len and Cisco. But then the moment passed, and Len gave a stiff nod: he wasn’t happy, but he wasn’t outraged either. Barry let out a sigh, and Len made eye contact with him for the first time since he’d entered the room. For a second, Barry thought that he was going to make some outrageous comment, right there in front of everyone; but instead, he just winked Barry’s way, so quick that Barry wasn’t even sure if it had actually been just a trick of the light.

Barry didn’t know how he felt about that.

The flirting yesterday had caught Barry by surprise, and he hadn’t had time to think it over. But now… now it sat in his stomach like lead. Because Len hadn’t really been flirting with Barry, he’d been flirting with the Flash.

Barry tried not to overthink it, though. Flirting was harmless. And, for someone like Len, it was probably a power-play. It was simply just a way to disarm the Flash. I mean, that had to be it… right? Len was essentially letting his guard down in enemy territory by coming here and asking for their help. This was just his way of evening the playing field… probably.

Still, Barry found his nerves kicking into high gear as Len sauntered up to him.

“Hey, Red,” Len purred, and Barry ended up giving him only a curt smile. Then Barry averted his gaze completely to Caitlin as she went in-depth into summarising what they had learnt so-far about Sophie’s powers. Barry could feel Len’s eyes fixed steadily into his face but just kept on looking straight until, eventually, Len seemed to lose interest in Barry’s lack of a reaction.

Out of the corner of Barry’s eye, he saw Len turn to face Caitlin too, leaning against the desk next to Barry. However, he scooted over so that his body was pressed so close against Barry’s side that Caitlin paused in the recounting to frown at them. Blushing, Barry stood up and stepped away from Len. He couldn’t help but cast the older man a look over his shoulder as he moved and noticed Len had returned his gaze Barry’s way and was smirking at him again.

Definitely a power move, then.

Barry looked back away and tried to calm his racing heart as Caitlin slowly started speaking once more.

“Right, so… erm, have you thought any more about what Sophie was doing the night of the particle accelerator explosion?” She asked Len.

“I told you yesterday, Doc, I wasn’t there that night,” Len drawled.

“Yes, it’s just… most of the metas we’ve dealt with gained their powers based on something they were doing at the time the explosion took place. Usually, it left them injured in some way,” Cait pushed. “And knowing what caused the powers can often help us to understand them better.”

“What can I say, it was late at night: she was probably in bed asleep,” Len said, sounding annoyed. Though Barry understood perfectly well where that testiness was coming from. Because, it wasn’t only that Len didn’t happen to be looking after Sophie nineteen months ago when the accelerator blew up, it was that he hadn’t even learnt she existed back then. Which was a secret Len didn’t appear to be overly keen on sharing with the team, it seemed.

“Maybe we should just… look at other angles,” Barry suggested, but Cait shook her head and pushed on.

“Without knowing what Sophie was doing when she was exposed to the black matter, it’s difficult to say whether her powers are a general manipulation of cold energy, or if they’re more specifically ice-related.”

“What’s the difference?” Len asked. He sounded bored, but Barry was willing to bet that it was all just some face he was putting on.

“Well,” Cisco said, standing up to move around the desk and closer to where everyone else stood in the centre of the cortex. Minus Wells, of course, who was silently working on a device in the corner of the room, though Barry suspected he was listening in to the entire conversation. “You see, if Sophie’s powers are purely ice-related, then the main question is whether she creates the ice from nothing, or if she somehow absorbs moisture from the air and her environment,” Cisco said, smirking as he continued with: “if it’s the latter, you might want to invest in a good dehumidifier.”

“However, if Sophie has just a general control of cold energy,” Cait continued, ignoring Cisco’s comment. “Then it’s likely that her powers work by manipulating atoms. Sophie would be effectively reducing their kinetic energy to the point where it created a physical change in her surrounding atmosphere.”

“Which is… pretty badass, actually,” Cisco interrupted. Len quirked an eyebrow at him, causing the engineer to shrug playfully.

“What? It is!” Cisco defended himself. “I mean, once she can control it, of course,” he added in. “But, just think, if Sophie can slow down atoms, then does that mean she could create a speed barrier and slow down physical objects too?” He asked. “With enough practice, she might even be able to stop a moving bullet!” Cisco continued, getting excited. But Len’s face darkened considerably, which made Cisco quickly backtrack. “Not that I’m saying anyone will be shooting at your daughter, it’s just…” Cisco drifted off nervously.

“It also brings up the question of whether Sophie can do anything else,” Barry said, saving Cisco from digging himself into any bigger hole with Len. “If her powers work by manipulating the kinetic energy between atoms, then who says she can only slow things down? It’s possible it might work both ways, and she could speed things up too.”

Len didn’t seem to like that idea one bit either.

“I’ll ask her if she remembers that night,” Len eventually gave in. “But don’t expect anything to come of it.”

“You also might want to think about bringing her in for some tests,” Caitlin suggested softly, carefully. It was clear to just about everyone that Len hated that idea, but he didn’t outright refuse this time; so that was something, at least. “Until then, I will be running various computer simulations based on what we do know about Sophie’s powers, trying to figure out how they work and how they can be stopped,” she continued. “And Cisco is going to create some different power dampeners.”

“And what will the Scarlet Speedster be doing?” Len drawled, smothering Barry with the intensity of his gaze.

“I… err,” Barry uttered. He hadn’t really planned on doing anything more than overseeing the situation. He wasn’t an engineer like Cisco nor a Doctor like Caitlin. And Barry worried at the idea of spending too much time with Len while in the Flash suit, in case his boyfriend put two and two together. However, now that Barry was thinking about it… there was potentially one thing that Barry could help with that the others couldn’t. “I could teach you some relaxation techniques for Sophie.”

It was only after the words had left his mouth, and Len quirked an eyebrow Barry’s way, that Barry realised how lame that must sound. It was just that, Sophie’s current situation reminded Barry a lot of his own childhood trauma. Logically, he knew that there were some big differences there… but Barry wondered if maybe his past might be able to help. He’d gone through three different therapists as a kid, so he knew all of the tricks. Some of them had worked for Barry, and he still remembered those ones to this day. Others didn’t help so much, and so Barry only had a vague recollection of them now. Though he supposed he could do a little speedreading on the topic and refresh his memory.

The only thing was, Barry didn’t know how he could explain any of that to Len without revealing his identity. Luckily enough, Len only paused for a second before he nodded, seeming on board.

“A bit of stress relief with you sounds like fun, Red,” Len drawled, making Barry blush. He scratched at the back of his neck and laughed nervously while trying his very best not to notice the odd look Cait and Cisco shared. It was harder to ignore the way Wells’ head snapped to attention, though the older scientist remained blessedly silent. Barry was suddenly very aware of the way the Flash suit was clinging to his skin, sticking to him, itching… he wished he could just tare the thing off, or at least pull his cowl down.

A handful of seconds passed before the tension in the room was cut by the sound of Len’s phone ringing. The man dug it out of his pocket and frowned down at the caller ID.

“It’s my sister,” he said. “Do you have somewhere private where I can take this?”

“Err, yeah,” Barry muttered, pointing out of the cortex. “There’s a training room, three doors down on your left. I’ll meet you there in a minute to go over these exercises,” he said, sounding much calmer than he felt. Len threw him a wink as he left the room and Barry tried his very best not to watch him walk away. He really did. “I don’t suppose you guys have any books on relaxation and methods for coping with trauma?” He asked. Speedreading a book was much easier than finding information on the internet when the computer could only scroll so fast, and Barry was often left waiting for it to catch up with him.

Caitlin, at least, seemed to snap out of it then at the reminder of the little girl they were trying to help. Unfortunately, she didn’t have any books like that. Neither did Cisco. Sighing, Barry sat himself down in front of a computer and started bringing up as many research papers and self-help guides as he could find, thankful that at the very least they had the very best software that money could buy which reduced the lagging time quite a bit more than if he was doing this on his standard computer at the precinct. As Barry immersed himself in reading material, Dr Wells slowly rolled his wheelchair up to Barry.

“I hope you know what you’re doing,” Wells said, his voice quiet enough that only Barry could hear, though it still sounded just as disappointed as it would have done if he’d shouted. “I fear that you’re getting drawn in by Snart. Never forget who he is and what he’s done, Barry,” Wells warned, and Barry’s gut twist into knots as the older man turned and wheeled himself out of the cortex.

Barry turned to watch as Wells disappeared into the hallway, then he looked up to see Cisco and Caitlin talking animatedly about the power dampeners Cisco was working on. Taking a deep breath, Barry looked back to the current webpage he had open and glanced over it, his heart doubling down in his chest as his eyes landed on a technique he’d forgotten about: yoga.

He had taken a few group classes with Iris when they were in college, and he remembered the basics, though Barry had the suspicion that doing one-on-one yoga with Len would be highly different. He could picture it: he imagined the way that Len would probably smirk at Barry, his eyes lingering sexually on Barry’s curves and bulges under the guise of ‘learning’. Barry imagined putting his hands all over Len’s body and guiding him into new positions… He imagined Len getting hard against Barry’s touch, and what the outline of that would look like through a pair of stretchy yoga pants, Barry imagined him grinding back against Barry’s hips and making crude puns about the names of the poses as he slowly drove Barry insane with his body.

Barry had to shut down that line of thought before his body began to react to it. It wouldn’t work anyway… Barry’s Flash suit allowed Barry enough movement that he could easily run in it, but it was not that malleable that he would be capable of pulling off so much as a simple cobra pose without a fair bit of chafing. And even if the suit wasn’t an issue… doing hot yoga here with Len, especially while Barry was pretending that he wasn’t Len’s boyfriend, was highly inappropriate. He’d leave it as a last resort.

Barry spent the next several minutes reading through pages and pages of information until he could no longer find anything new and all the material was repeating itself. Finally, Barry grabbed a notebook and a handful of pens, and he stood up.

“I should check on Len,” he said absentmindedly. Thankfully, Barry realised his mistake pretty quickly and forced a cough to try to cover himself. “On Leonard,” he finished, pretty happy with himself for dodging that particular fallout.

“Yeah, you wouldn’t want to keep your boyfriend waiting,” Cait joked, and then Barry was coughing for real, choking on his own spit.

“Wh-what?” Barry spluttered out. “He’s not… That’s… That’s insane,” Barry tried his best not to blush, but he could feel the heat filling up his cheeks as his friends both burst out laughing.

“Aww, leave him be, Caitlin,” Cisco muttered once his laughter had died down, noting the red tinge to Barry’s face. “It’s not Barry’s fault that Captain Cold wants to climb him like a tree.”

“That’s not true!” Barry all but shouted. His denial only made his friends laugh harder.

“Are you sure about that, Red,” Cisco asked, imitating the seductive drawl that Len liked to put on whenever he said one of Barry’s nicknames.

“You guys are way off the mark here,” Barry insisted. “It’s just… It’s a power play!” God, he hoped it was a power play. Barry didn’t much like thinking what the other option would mean for his and Len’s relationship.

“A power play, huh?” Cisco muttered. “Is that what the kids these days are calling it?”

“Hey, we’re only teasing,” Cait said when Barry could do nothing more than face-palm. “I’m sure there is some perfectly reasonable explanation for this,” she said, turning to glare at Cisco over her shoulder, effectively cutting off whatever comment he had been about to make. When her eyes found Barry again, she was smiling and patting him on the shoulder. “A power play makes a lot of sense.”

“I better go,” Barry said rather than answering. Len really would be waiting for him. And Barry remembered from their first date how Len liked to escalate situations; if he thought that the Flash was making him wait on purpose, who knew what he might escalate this power move of his to.

“Use a condom!” Cisco shouted after him, and Barry tried his very best to ignore his friend as he left the room.

Barry took a breath to calm himself down and tried to force the blush from his cheeks, though he couldn’t say how successful he was at that, as he entered the make-shift gym they had created a few months back to help with training. Len was leaning up against a wall, one hand resting on the cold gun strapped to his thigh, tapping on it absentmindedly with his middle finger.

“Are you okay?” Barry asked. Len blinked up at him as though he hadn’t even noticed Barry enter. He set his face back into a cool mask and stood up straight, shrugging in that way he liked which was just a little too over the top to be casual.

“Peachy,” he drawled. Len looked to be clenching and unclenching his jaw, and he was lacking that flirty swagger which he’d been wearing this past day and a half; it made Barry worry.

“What’s happened?” Barry insisted, stepping forward and into Len’s personal space. Len looked as though he was going to snap some snarky comment Barry’s way, but then he seemed to think twice about it, biting back his tongue. After a long moment, and a very deep breath, Len turned his head to look away from Barry and finally spoke. His voice was broken, and Barry just wanted to reach forward and wrap him up in a hug. But he couldn’t.

“Sophie’s had another episode. A bad one,” Len said, he didn’t elaborate further.

“Is she okay?” Barry asked, and Len nodded wordlessly. “What about your sister?”

“Lisa? She’s tough, she’s fine,” Len answered, turning to look at Barry again. There was a moment where Len paused and looked as though he was going to say something important, then the moment passed. “Let’s get this over with, shall we?” Len asked as he pushed himself off the wall and patted Barry playfully on the shoulder. “Wouldn’t like to think that I’m monopolising the Flash’s precious time.”

“Monopolise away,” Barry shrugged. “I’m here for you. I want to help,” he reminded Len.

“But what about your other villains, Red? Wouldn’t want any of them to get jealous.”

“They can get as jealous as they like, you’re my favourite,” Barry teased, then felt his cheeks heat up as his mind caught up to his mouth. He was walking a dangerous line here… it was so easy to speak to his boyfriend as though Len knew his identity. What would happen if he slipped up one day? How would Len take learning that Barry Allen was the Flash? Barry didn’t feel too eager to find out.

Len was smirking as he stepped around Barry and towards the sole desk in the room, dropping himself into one of the chairs. Barry didn’t really know why he’d chosen this room, in particular, to talk to Len in when there were probably much better options.

The team had picked it as their make-shift gym due to the good supply of natural light and the high ventilation which kept it cool. Though, to call it a ‘gym’ was truthfully a stretch. There was some equipment dotted around the room, sure, but the only thing that Barry would use was the boxing bag he’d hung. Exercise seemed to be a good outlet for Barry, so he’d come here to clear his head whenever he was frustrated with a situation or a problem. He’d been coming here a lot lately.

“So, tell me, Flash,” Len drawled as he spun the chair around to face Barry, opening his hands with fingers spread wide and then clasping them together to rest in front of his stomach. “What wisdom do you have to share with me? I’m all ears.” Barry shook his head and huffed a small laugh, sitting on the other chair in the room and tearing a few pieces of paper from the notebook for himself. He put the rest of the pages plus the pens down on the table in case Len wanted them.

Barry started with the basics, writing the name of each technique down as he spoke so he could mentally tick them off his list. Counting was the easiest one, getting Sophie to pick a number and slowly counting up to it. Though, Barry wasn’t entirely sure how high she could count, being only five years old. Then there was getting her to imagine her favourite place, and other varieties of this tactic like her favourite show, or ice cream flavour, or book characters… anything tangible which made her happy. Then there was the 54321 method, the use of aromatherapy, and the calming jar technique. Barry was anticipating the “you want me to get her a snow globe?” Comment for that last one and Len did not disappoint.

“How is any of this actually supposed to help her?” Len eventually asked, and Barry decided that maybe it was time for a demonstration. His mind flitted back to his previous thought of teaching Len yoga, but he quickly dismissed it… worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep himself in check.

“Close your eyes,” Barry told him, and Len smirked.

“Why?” He drawled. “What do you want to do to me?”

Oh, so many things, Barry thought but thankfully didn’t say.

“Just do it,” he said. Len looked his face over for several seconds, his blue eyes glinting playfully in the morning light before he slowly blinked them closed and settled a little bit back into his seat. Barry had a flicker of realisation of how much Len must have been trusting him right in that second: Barry knew all too well how much of a wary and suspicious man his boyfriend was, and he knew how Len must feel being inside STAR Labs alone and surrounded by people he probably thought of as enemies. Barry felt the urge to lean over and kiss him, kiss away all of Len’s problems and make him smile again. A real smile. The smirk was hot, and it made electricity jolt through each of Barry’s nerves whenever Len turned it his way. But he knew that it was just a mask.

Barry wanted to see one of Len’s real smiles again. He’d spotted a glimpse of one yesterday when he’d Len off-guard and made him laugh, but Barry wanted to see more. He wanted it to light up his boyfriend’s face and smooth away all of his worries.

If only it were that simple.

Len cracked one eye open to peak at Barry, quirking an eyebrow in question, and Barry realised he’d been silent for too long.

“Close them,” Barry said, and Len did so with a small smirk. “And don’t open them again until I tell you to.”

“I like when you get all commanding there, Scarlet,” Len drawled. “It gives me chills.” Barry didn’t deign to answer that, mostly because he didn’t know how. He just woke the computer up and found a progressive muscle relaxation script online.

“We’re going to do a demonstration,” Barry said as he searched.

“Ooh, exciting,” Len drawled, Barry looked over at him again, but his eyes were still closed.

“It’s only going to work if you actually try,” he warned Len. Then he clicked on a link and cleared his throat as he read from the script. “Pretend you have a whole lemon in your left hand,” Barry read, his voice as soft and soothing as he could make it. Len was already laughing to himself, a taunting sound rather than the light and carefree laugh that Barry had come to know and crave.

Barry frowned and gave Len a warning poke on his thigh. It was supposed to be playful, but Len quickly grabbed Barry’s wrist in response, his grip just a little too tight. Barry hadn’t been expecting it and was caught off guard as he looked up at Len’s face, his eyes now open again and sharp. Barry worried that he’d somehow broke the easy ambience between them. But then, wordlessly, Len dropped Barry’s wrist. He rolled his jaw a couple of times and leant his head back against the chair once more, closing his eyes again. Though, it looked to Barry as though he was just slightly more on edge than he had been earlier.

“Pretend you have a whole lemon in your left hand,” Barry started again. This time, Len didn’t laugh. Barry slowly talked him through the entire script, reading aloud all the sections from the hands to the arms, shoulders, jaw, face, and so on. He watched as Len followed his instructions to the T, not even commenting on some of the quite obvious double entendres. Eventually, Barry asked Len to open his eyes again. “How do you feel?” Barry asked.

“Like an idiot,” Len muttered, rolling his eyes as though the last ten minutes had been a complete waste of time. But then he shrugged and said: “I’ll give it a go,” so he must have gotten something out of it.

There were other techniques, mostly types of meditation, that he could show Len. But Barry figured this was probably enough for the time being. If Sophie didn’t respond well enough to any of them, then Barry could teach Len some more another time. The thought of yoga once again leapt into the forefront of Barry’s mind, and he smothered it before he even let the thoughts fully form.

“That’s probably enough for one day,” Barry smiled innocently and stood up. “I’m sure you want to get back to Sophie,” he continued, collecting his papers from the desk with the intention of placing them in the recycling basket.

“Why are you helping me?” Len asked all of a sudden, making Barry pause and turn back around. Len was just sitting there on the chair, leaning forward with his elbows resting on his knees, and staring at Barry as though he was the biggest mystery that Len had ever encountered.

“That’s what I do. I’m the hero of Central City,” Barry joked, but Len didn’t smile.

“Yeah, and I’m a crook,” Len said. His voice was rougher and darker than normal. And his eyes were staring at Barry so intently as though he’d just spilt his deepest secret and was waiting to see the fallout. Barry gave him a soft smile in return, speaking from his heart.

“You’re not so bad.”

“And what if I was?” Len asked, slowly standing up. “What if I were still a thief? What if I stole things and hurt people? Would you still be helping me?” Len asked, taking a step closer and pushing into Barry’s personal space. Barry found himself falling silent because he couldn’t find the words to answer that question. “If I were to go out and rob a bank tomorrow, would you throw me in jail?”

“I don’t know. Are you planning on robbing a bank tomorrow?” Barry countered, aiming to lighten the mood. But Len just kept looking at him in the unreadable way which made Barry squirm. “Maybe,” Barry finally admitted. “I wouldn’t be a very good hero if I let people just go around robbing banks now, would I?” Len seemed to think about that for a moment.

“And what if it was…” Len paused dramatically and shrugged. “Let’s say, a museum, instead?”

“Oh, well that changes everything,” Barry joked.

“Hmm,” he uttered again, nodding his head and pursing his lips for a moment. Barry’s eyes were drawn to them for all of a second before he forced himself to look away, hoping that Len hadn’t noticed. “You know, I don’t think you would arrest me… I think you’d let me get away,” Len said confidently.

“Oh, really?”

“Yes… really,” Len nodded, smirking. “You see, Scarlet…” Len drawled slowly, inching ever closer to Barry, leaning forward so that he could whisper in Barry’s ear. “I know your secret now.”

Barry pulled back instantly, eyes wide open and mouth agape. Len couldn’t be saying what Barry thought he was saying… could he? Len couldn’t know Barry’s identity. He couldn’t

“Now,” Len continued. “How would your friends down at the CCPD feel once they hear you’re working with the big bad Captain Cold?”

Oh, crap. He knew.

Barry opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, trying his hardest to form words which just weren’t coming.

“But that’s your secret, your weakness: you’re a sucker for these baby blues,” Len drawled, gesturing to his own face and winking. And… what? So, Len didn’t know Barry’s identity? “But, hey,” Len shrugged dramatically and shifted closer, so close that their bodies brushed against one another. Barry tried his best to keep himself composed, but he could feel his body reacting as Len dropped his voice to a seductive whisper once again. “If you ever feel like taking this thing a little further, you’ll see that I can give you much more than just a chill down your spine.”

Len hovered in Barry’s personal space for a moment longer, and Barry’s erection grew ever more persistent as the seconds ticked on by, before Len pulled back and moved to leave the room. Barry watched him swagger away, completely dumbfounded. Once Len got to the door, he paused, turning back to Barry one last time.

“I’ll even let you keep that mask on, Flash” Len drawled. “In fact… I think I’d prefer that.”

Len gave Barry a smirk and a wink, and then he disappeared through the doorway and out of Barry’s line of vision.

Chapter Text

The next day, when Barry entered the cortex in the Flash suit, Len was already there. He wasn’t wearing his parka today, having swapped it for a slim black leather jacket, but the cold gun was still strapped to his thigh, more noticeable without the bulky coat to distract the eye.

Len was leaning against the desk beside Cisco, who was working on adjustments to the new power dampeners. They were the only two in the room and were talking amicably about the design. Apparently, the cuff-like dampeners which Len had taken home yesterday had worked, and Sophie managed to go a full night without an episode. Barry was relieved to hear that and was about to say so when Len’s eyes landed on him. He smirked Barry’s way, and it was like all of the air was being sucked out of the room.

Barry’s mind flitted back to yesterday morning, to how Len had crowded into his personal space and flat-out propositioned him. And now Len was just standing there as though nothing had happened. Except, something had happened. And it left a foul taste in Barry’s mouth. After the way Len had pushed him yesterday, Barry could no-longer pretend that this was all just some power-play on Len’s part. Len wanted the Flash. And it didn’t matter that Barry and the Flash were technically the same person because Len didn’t know that. Which meant that…

Well, it meant that Len was more than willing to cheat on Barry if given the opportunity.

Barry tried not to think about it, but it made his stomach lurch. He’d only been dating Len for a few weeks, they hadn’t even had sex yet, they certainly weren’t serious. And yet, it had felt serious. Barry and Len just clicked together. From the very beginning, since he had first seen Len smile on Halloween night, it had just been… not exactly easy, hiding a relationship from your friends and family because your boyfriend had once killed a man in front of you was pretty damn difficult actually, but comfortable.

It shouldn’t have been.

Barry wasn’t entirely sure how he had got so charmed with Len so quickly, how he’d so readily been able to forgive and forget the pain that Len had put Barry through when they’d first met as the Flash and Captain Cold. But he had forgiven. He’d cared for Len, given himself over to him both emotionally and physically. And now…

Barry tried not to think about it too hard. He had to stay professional. Because, no matter what game Len was playing with Barry’s heart, Sophie needed their help and he wasn’t about to let her down.

“Hey, Red,” Len drawled. Cisco glanced over his shoulder to see Barry and then shook his head as he turned his attention back to the power dampeners he was working on. Barry smiled back at Len as politely as he could muster. “Woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning, Scarlet?” Len drawled in response to what must have been a pretty lacklustre smile. “You should try mine some time, I promise you’ll leave with a real smile on your face.”

“That is the worst pickup line I have ever heard,” Cisco cut in before Barry could respond. Len huffed a laugh and turned his head Cisco’s way.

“You think you can do better?” He challenged. Cisco tapped his screwdriver against the desk for a moment before turning Len’s way and grinning.

“How about: ‘pull up a seat; your legs must be tired with how much you’ve been running through my mind all day,’” Cisco suggested, putting on his best Captain Cold drawl.

“Hmm,” Len considered and then shrugged. “Well, I do appreciate a good pun. Let me try it. Hey, Scarlet-”

“Stop,” Barry interrupted, glaring at the back of Cisco’s head as the engineer tried his best, and ultimately failed, to hold in his laughter. Barry took a deep breath and walked over to them, looking over Cisco’s shoulder at the bracelet he was working on. “How’s it coming along?” He asked, changing the topic as soon as possible and refusing to make eye contact with Len.

“It’s slow work,” Cisco admitted. “Changing the size of the original power dampening cuffs was one thing, but coming up with an entirely new design is something else. I think I’ve nearly worked out the last of the kinks though.”

“If you’re interested in kinks, Scarlet, I have a few I could show you,” Len drawled, and Barry felt like face-palming.

“Seriously, Cold,” Cisco muttered. “I am sure you can do better than that.”

Barry didn’t know how to respond to this. Despite all odds, Len and Cisco were actually getting along. But it just happened to be at Barry’s expense.

Thankfully, Caitlin chose that moment to enter the room, and Barry let out a sigh of relief knowing that at least she would take things seriously. Cait dove straight into asking Len questions and pulling his attention back away from Barry for the time being. But after a few minutes, Len’s eyes found Barry again, tracking him around the room. And for someone who went by Captain Cold, there was certainly a lot of heat in his gaze. It made Barry feel naked, exposed. His heart raced and his stomach twisted into knots. And, despite everything, Barry liked it.

He enjoyed Len’s attention, loved that Len could barely keep his eyes off of him, but it still stung too. Every moment that ticked by was both a blessing and a curse, and Barry didn’t know how much more of this he could withstand. Being toyed with by someone you cared about hurt, okay? So, the next time that Len’s attention flickered back to Cisco or Caitlin, Barry silently slipped back out of the cortex to get some space.

He thought about going on the treadmill for a run, but Barry needed real exercise to clear his mind and running at superspeed just wasn’t the same. It exercised the wrong muscles to access the speed force, it required too much concentration, and it just didn’t get his adrenaline pumping in the same way as exercising without the assist of his powers did. So, Barry went to the make-shift gym and took his anger out on the punching bag instead.

Barry couldn’t say how long he kept that up, punching at the bag over and over again without bothering to put on gloves on top of his suit. Sometimes he would hit just a little too hard, and he felt the jolt of pain spasm up his wrist and towards his elbow. But that only lasted a few seconds anyway.

Barry got lost in the repetition of it, letting it work out all of his frustration. It felt good. He couldn’t believe that he’d never tried boxing before he met Eddie. There was something about it that just relaxed him even as it made his muscles thrum with energy.

“Hmm,” a voice said from behind Barry, making him jump and spin around. The tension he’d just been working out returned to his shoulders as he found Len lounging across a chair, his eyes roaming up and down Barry’s body; he must have snuck in at some point while Barry was distracted. “Don’t let me interrupt,” he drawled, hands in the air. “I’m happy to just enjoy the view. You know, that suit really doesn’t leave much to the imagination.” When Barry could only stand there gawping at his boyfriend, Len slowly stood up. He stalked closer, his bright blue eyes connecting intensely with Barry’s. “Who made it?” He asked, beginning to invade Barry’s personal space, his voice lowering to a seductive whisper. “I should give them my thanks.”

“It was… Cisco,” Barry replied, taken off guard, his voice coming out sounding barely above a squeak.

“Yeah?” Len hummed. “Is there any reason why Cisco wants to dress you up in tight leather? Should I be jealous?”

“Jealous?” Barry asked, regaining his voice even as he suddenly began to feel out of breath. He pulled back a bit from Len. Though, this time, he was angry. “Aren’t you dating anyone?” he prodded, trying not to show his hand. “Handsome guy like you, surely there’s someone you’re seeing.” Len looked like he was thinking on that for a second and then he shook his head.

“Nope. No one comes to mind.” And that… well, that really hurt. “I mean…” Len said slowly with a shrug. “There is this one guy… but I won’t tell him if you don’t,” he whispered into Barry’s ear. And Barry’s heart felt like it was stuck in his throat.

Did Barry really mean so little to him? Had Len even ever cared about Barry in the first place, or was he always just some plaything? Something to toy along with whenever he got bored. Barry supposed he shouldn’t be all that surprised; he always had the worst luck when it came to dating, so why would he think that it would be any different with Len?

Barry shook his head, finding it impossible to speak right then. And even if he could… what would he say? Wordlessly, he stepped back from Len and quickly moved to leave the room.

“Barry, wait!” Len called, losing his drawl now as he immediately followed after him. “I was just having some fun; you can’t blame me for that.”

Fun?” Barry shouted back, turning around quickly, his voice breaking as he said it. He shouldn’t have engaged. He should have kept moving. But he just couldn’t help it! Trying to cheat on your boyfriend wasn’t exactly Barry’s idea of ‘fun’. Barry spun back around and was only seconds away from speeding out of STAR Labs when a lightbulb went off in his head.

Len had called him Barry. Not the Flash, or Scarlet, or Red, or whatever new nickname he’d come up with.

Barry.

He turned back to stare at Len, his mouth agape and his eyes wide.

“It wasn’t that hard to figure out… Barry,” Len shrugged, recognising that they were now on the same page. Everything was clicking into place.

“You’re an asshole,” Barry said, and then he surged forward to kiss Len, his hands coming up to cup his boyfriend’s face as their lips smashed together in a wave of fury, and exasperation, and relief. So much relief. But the tension of the last few days, the anger, it didn’t just fade away. It burned inside of Barry, seeping out in his kiss, edging him on further. Rougher. Len didn’t seem to mind that.

Barry slipped into his superspeed, using it to slam Len up against a wall. Holding him there, caging him in. Len let out a gasp of surprise as the air was knocked from him. And Barry decided it was the perfect time to attack Len's neck instead, allowing him some time to breathe.

Barry's tongue joined the assault as he bit and sucked at Len's tender skin, bruising him, claiming him. Barry had never felt so possessive before, but with this heat running through his veins, he couldn't help but mark his boyfriend up for the entire world to see because Len was his, goddammit, and no one else's.

Len didn't seem to mind as he groaned and shifted against Barry, his hands roaming up and down Barry's body, clinging to him, searching for purchase, feeling as though he was desperate to mark Barry up in return in scratch marks, but the damn suit was getting in the way.

Barry continued his pursuit down Len's neck, tugging Len’s sweater out of the way to gain access to more of his skin. Barry pushed down as far as the material would stretch and bit harshly against Len's collarbone. He heard Len hiss in return, his hips bucking up against Barry as though on reflex.

Then Len's hands shot up to cup Barry's face, and he was pushing Barry back forcibly. Barry could only blink down at his boyfriend, worried that he'd gone too far. But Len didn’t let go of his jaw, looking him over intently. Eventually, Len brushed his fingers up Barry's face and to the edge of the cowl, hooking his thumbs under it and yanking the material up and off of Barry's head. Len leaned back and smirked.

"Much better," he said, nodding to himself.

"I thought you wanted to leave the mask on," Barry laughed, and Len shrugged dramatically.

"Maybe next time," he drawled, and then his hands were tightening around Barry's jaw again, and he was pulling Barry back in for another kiss.

Barry stumbled happily into it as Len's tongue pushed into his mouth and claimed him. Barry pressed up against him, their body's forming one hard line against the wall. Barry's cock was hard, and he could feel Len's own hardness against him now too. Or maybe that was the cold gun still strapped to Len's thigh? The reminder of the dangerous man Barry had crowded against a wall should have scared him, but instead, it sent a jolt of electricity thrumming through Barry's entire body. He vibrated with the intensity of it and Len could only gasp and groan in surprise.

And then Len's lips were on him again, his hands pulling at the Flash suit, roaming up and down as he tried to find a way inside. And Barry, desperate to feel Len against his naked skin, guided Len's hand to the hidden zipper above the Flash emblem. Len wasted no time yanking the zipper half-way down to expose Barry's naked chest to the chilled air of the lab. And then Len's hands were on him, cool against his overheated skin. Barry groaned deep at the back of his throat, and Len's lips trailed from Barry's mouth down his jaw and to his neck, biting, and licking, and driving Barry insane.

Len's thumb found Barry's nipple, alternating between harsh pinching and soft rubbing, as his teeth scraped down Barry's neck. Barry gasped, his hips jolting forward of their own accord, searching for friction, for Len.

Barry panted and writhed under Len's attention. His entire body was thrumming. He tilted his head away to give Len better access as he bit a mark into the exact spot where Barry's shoulder and neck met. Barry gasped and clung on tightly to his boyfriend's shoulders as he felt his body reacting all too quickly to the intensity of Len's mouth.

He abruptly tried to pull back, but Len followed him, his teeth worrying at that sensitive spot as he continued to attack Barry's neck. It was payback, Barry knew, for the unforgiving way Barry had just been assaulting Len's neck. But it was too much, too good, on Barry’s overworked nerves. Barry could feel his stomach tightening in that tell-tale way, his knees were going weak, the electricity was coursing through every vein in his body all the way down to his toes, and Len needed to stop before Barry...

"I'm gonna..." he tried to warn Len, and his boyfriend paused in his attack to look up at him, but it was too late. Barry couldn't even finish his sentence before he was tumbling over that edge, his dick twitching as his seed pulsated out of him, covering his stomach and soiling his Flash suit. "Fuck." Barry came so hard that he saw stars. He had to close his eyes tight and bury his face into the crook of Len's neck as he shook uncontrollably through his orgasm.

Len petted Barry's hair as he vibrated in Len’s arms, and Barry could feel embarrassment wash over him like a wave, pulling him under its current. His entire body was burned with the heat of it, but Barry couldn't manage to get the words out to explain. He opened and closed his mouth like a fish as he slowly stopped shaking in Len's arms.

"If I'd known you were this desperate for me, maybe I wouldn't have teased so much," Len drawled, and Barry groaned, trying in vain to bury his head even further into Len's neck. As he shifted his weight, though, he became suddenly very aware of Len's hard dick poking at Barry's hip.

"It's... it's a speedster thing," Barry stuttered out. He shifted again, running his hands down Len's body and grabbing tightly onto his waist. Barry nipped teasingly at Len's neck as he deliberately rolled his hips forward. He could feel the shiver that ran through Len's body, and he laughed breathlessly. "On the bright side, though, I have a non-existent refractory period."

Len's hand momentarily stilled in Barry's hair as that sunk in. Barry pulled back and laughed again as he saw the dumbstruck expression on Len's face. Barry adjusted his body again so that this time when his hips jutted forward, Len's dick connected with Barry's own hardening cock through their layers of clothing. Len let out a groan so delectable that it shot electric through Barry's veins.

And then Len was spinning them, pushing Barry against the wall and seizing his mouth.

Len's leg found its way in between Barry's thighs, pressing against him and he fucked Barry's mouth with his tongue, delving deep and insistent. Barry felt the cold leather of Len's jacket against his bare chest, it was surprisingly soft; though Barry couldn't keep still, his hips constantly grinding down against Len's thigh, and so the metal zipper was beginning to rub him raw. At one point it caught against Barry's abused nipple and made him gasp and squirm, a vibration wracking through his entire body in response.

Barry couldn't take it anymore and pushed the jacket from Len's shoulders. Len released his harsh grip on Barry's hips just long enough to pull the jacket off completely and toss it aside before he was back on Barry again. Len was grinding down against him now too, his hard cock rolling against Barry's hip. He remembered what it looked like: large, hard, pink, and weeping with pre-come. The memory made Barry shake with pleasure. But Barry had had enough of this teasing. He wanted more than dirty touches and slick kisses; he wanted to feel Len's dick buried inside him, thrusting deep and harsh and filling the room with the sounds of skin crashing against naked skin.

Barry tugged at Len's hips, scooping him up in one swift moment and flashing them forward to the nearest desk. He swiped the books and papers to the floor and pushed Len down against the cool wood, barely giving him time to adjust to their new position before crawling up on top of him and kissing him deeply. Barry had never felt this intoxicated with someone before. He didn’t just want Len at that moment, he needed him. Needed his mouth, his hands, his wordless groans and gasps.

Len pulled back from the kiss long enough to tug the zipper on Barry’s Flash suit further down his body, as far down as it would go. The cool air prickled at Barry’s skin as Barry slotted himself in between Len’s thighs. Len ran his hand back through Barry’s hair, grabbing and tugging him back down at the same time that Len dove up to recapture Barry’s lips with his own.

In turn, Barry’s hands found their way to Len’s hips, holding him tight as he forcefully rolled his hips down against Len’s cock. Len gasped dirtily into Barry’s mouth, bucking up against him to get more friction. Barry thought that he might just come again like this, grinding down against Len as the table shook dangerously beneath them. Part of Barry wanted just to hold off and wait, wait until they were naked and sweating, until Len’s cock was pushing into his hole and filled him up. But another part knew he couldn’t hold back that long. Barry was vibrating in pulses now, feeling Len’s body give to his will.

He was on the edge; a few more thrusts and he would be toppling over again. One of Len’s hands found its way inside Barry’s suit, roaming down his body and grabbing his ass, kneading it with his rough fingers. Barry was close now, so very close.

But that was when their moment was interrupted by a surprised gasp in the doorway. Time froze for Barry as his thoughts raced ahead a mile a minute. He looked back down at Len as his stomach twisted with anxiety and fear. Slowly, Barry turned around.

The time bubble broke around him, and everything else began to speed up again… or rather, Barry began to slow down.

Either way, it didn’t really matter right then because Iris was standing in the doorway. Barry pulled off of Len completely, scrambling to stand up, feeling exposed with his entire torso bare. Iris took a step back at first. But then her face fell from surprise into anger, and she marched forward instead.

“You’re the Flash, Barry?” Iris shouted, and Barry drew into himself, stunned and confused and unsure how he should be acting. “And you told your boyfriend,” Iris pointed Len’s way but didn’t move her glare from Barry’s face. Barry turned to look at Len for a second, watching the man sit up and adjust himself casually. How was he so calm?! “Who you have known for all of… what? Three weeks? But you didn’t tell me?”

“Iris…” Barry started, but he didn’t know what to say. She was right, of course; Barry had wanted to tell her his secret since the very beginning. She was right to be angry that he’d kept this from her. So, knowing that, how could he even begin to defend himself?

Iris just stared back at him, rage burning in her eyes, as she waited for some sort of explanation that wasn’t coming. When she realised that Barry wasn’t going to say anything, she began clenching and unclenching her jaw. Shaking her head, Iris took a step back. Barry tried to follow, but she just put her hand up in his face, a silent warning to back off. Wordlessly, she offered Len a curt nod and then spun around on her heels and stormed out. Only when she was gone did Barry’s legs give out on him, and he sat back sullenly on the table. He could feel Len’s eyes on him, and so he turned to face his boyfriend. Len’s face was carefully blank, staring at Barry with a furrowed brow.

“Why didn’t you tell your sister about this?” Len asked slowly, his words seemed to be carefully chosen, but they still made Barry instinctually cringe.

“She’s not my sister,” he responded instantly, and Len nodded. Showing no emotion, Len stood from the table and straightened his clothes out. He grabbed his forgotten jacket up off the floor and quickly slung it over his shoulders.

“I’m going to go,” Len said, a tone to his voice that Barry hadn’t heard before. Barry frowned and stood up again, but Len just shook his head and backed away a little. “I need to go see my daughter, and you clearly need time to figure some things out so…” Len splayed his fingers out wide and instantly clenched his hand into a fist again. He shook his head once more, this time it looked as though it was aimed at himself rather than at Barry. And then Len let out a small, quiet, huff and took another step back. “Goodbye, Barry.”

Barry blinked, staring at the door that Len and Iris had both just hurried out of. What the hell had just happened?

[] [] []

Thawne grinned as he watched the scene play out in his time vault.

Admittedly, this wasn’t exactly what he’d expected to happen when he’d invited Iris to the labs. He’d called her here so that she could accidentally bump into Leonard Snart with his cold gun and put two and two together. Thawne had hoped that her revelation and fear for Barry’s safety would bring out her feelings for the young man and end this nonsense once and for all.

However, what had happened instead was even better.

In this one move, Thawne had taken Snart out of the equation and simultaneously allowed Iris to see the true Barry which she had been blind to for so long. Now he was certain that it would take no time at all to fix this timeline back to how it was supposed to be.

And then Thawne could finally go back home.

And he would use all of this new-found knowledge of Barry’s life to take away every sliver of happiness the man had found. Piece by piece.

Chapter Text

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Iris asked, and Barry didn’t know how to respond. She didn’t seem as angry today, but she definitely wasn’t happy either. Barry had given her a couple of hours to calm down before he’d gone over to the apartment she shared with Eddie. Iris had almost not let him inside, but Barry had stood there begging for forgiveness, his forehead pressed against the wooden door, for a full minute and she’d eventually decided to hear him out.

Thankfully, Eddie wasn’t home, though Barry imagined that the detective would find out sooner or later about Barry’s secret double life. Iris wouldn’t keep it from him for very long. Barry hoped she would at least give Barry time to tell Eddie himself.

“I wanted to,” he admitted, pacing back and forth in her living room as Iris sat and watched him from the sofa. “Over and over again. You were the first person I wanted to tell!” Iris was Barry’s best friend. For a long time, he’d hoped that she would be more than that. Part of him still did hope that they might have a future together. Though that hope was dwindling more and more with each passing day. With each smile and kiss that Eddie and Iris exchanged. Barry loved Iris. He wanted to be with her. But she was happy with Eddie, and he wouldn’t jeopardise that. He'd told himself that he would put her happiness before his own because that’s what you did when you loved someone. And then Barry met Len... And their relationship was certainly complicated, but it was good too. Barry liked Len; he really, really, did.

“But, instead, you lied to me,” she said, her voice raw and hurt. Barry sighed and sat down on the sofa beside her.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Everything just got so out of hand. And Joe thought you would be safer if you were kept in the dark.”

“Wait,” Iris said, and Barry winced. “You’re telling me that my dad knows too. And you were both keeping this from me?”

“I’m sorry,” Barry said again, he didn’t know what else he could say. Iris let out a humourless laugh and shook her head.

“At this point, Barry, sorry doesn’t cut it.”

Barry half expected her to kick him out then, but instead, she just sat silently for a moment, clenching and releasing her jaw over and over again. Then she took a deep breath in through her nose and turned back to face him again. Barry couldn’t help but think how gorgeous she looked, even when she was angry. It was a different side of her which Barry didn’t get to see very often, and he couldn’t help but be drawn in by her beauty. He internally chastised himself for those thoughts, though.

“You know that whole ‘keep them in the dark to protect them’ thing is a load of crap, right?” Iris asked. “I can’t prepare myself if I don’t know that there’s anything to prepare for.”

“I’d protect you,” Barry said, his voice fierce. Iris sighed and smiled softly back at him, the first smile she’d given him this whole day. Barry couldn’t help but be relieved, even though he knew he was far from out of the woods just yet.

“You’re not invincible, Barry. Not even as the Flash,” she told him. Barry knew that, but it didn’t matter: he would gladly give his life to protect Iris if he had to. Barry didn’t tell her that, though. Iris loved him as a friend. Nothing more. Part of Barry was still clinging onto the memory of their kiss, from the timeline that Barry had written out of existence only a month ago. That kiss proved to Barry that there was the capacity there for something more between them. But Barry had admitted to himself weeks ago that he couldn’t keep pushing his own feelings on her like that, he had to let her be happy with Eddie. And then, maybe, Barry could be happy with Len too.

Len.

Leonard Snart.

Just thinking about his boyfriend made Barry’s stomach twist into knots. Part of Barry couldn’t believe that he had allowed himself to fall so deeply for a wanted criminal, a man who had once shot someone dead in front of Barry’s own eyes. It shouldn’t have been possible that Barry could overlook that. But then he’d seen how Len interacted with little Sophie, and it had warmed Barry’s heart. And, suddenly, everything became much more complicated. Because Len was a criminal… a villain, even. But he was more than that! He was a good man deep down, and a loving father. And knowing the real man behind the cold gun changed things for Barry.

The right thing would be for Barry to turn Len over to the cops to pay for his crimes. But doing the ‘right thing’ was easy when it was about an arbitrary supervillain who Barry had never spoken so much as a few words to. It was much more difficult, however, when you knew them personally. How could Barry send Len, who hadn’t so much as gotten a parking ticket these past six months, to prison knowing that he would be leaving Sophie to grow up without her father?

So, no, doing the ‘right thing’ wasn’t always easy, and maybe this time, Barry could just let himself do the wrong thing. What with all of the good he did as the Flash, surely, he could be selfish just this once?

However, thinking about Len reminded Barry that Iris didn’t, in fact, know about everything just yet.

“There’s more I need to tell you,” he said quietly, changing the subject. “It’s about Len.”

“You mean the boyfriend who you apparently trust more than you trust me?” She asked, bitter, and Barry sighed.

“That’s not true,” he insisted, taking her hand in his own and feeling happy when she didn’t immediately pull away from him. “I didn’t tell Len I was the Flash. He figured it out on his own.”

“How?” She asked, and Barry shook his head: he didn’t know. After both Len and Iris had stormed out of STAR Labs, Barry had tried to call his boyfriend but to no avail. It seemed that Len was back to ignoring him again, though Barry couldn’t for the life of him understand why. Everything had been going so well…

“I’m not sure, actually,” he admitted. “But, that’s not the issue. The thing is, Len… well, his real name is Leonard Snart,” Barry said, hoping that he wouldn’t have to explain any further. Iris was an expert on all things Flash at this point, and it was literally her job to keep an eye and ear out for all updates, so she was pretty well-versed in all of the Flash’s villains. A second passed where Iris’ brow furrowed, recognising Len’s name though not quite understanding its significance… yet. Eventually, her eyes went wide, and her mouth fell agape.

“Oh my God,” she said, her voice high-pitched. “You’re dating Captain Cold!”

“Yeah… yeah, I am,” Barry nodded, speaking slowly as his heart raced a mile a minute inside his chest. “But Len’s changed!” He insisted. Or, at least, Barry hoped that Len had changed. Though Barry couldn’t help but remember how Len had made a scene, stole a necklace, and took a hostage only a few days ago. But he hadn’t hurt the girl, and he’d given the jewellery back once prompted, plus that whole thing had only been to draw Barry’s attention in the first place… “But, still, you need to keep what you saw quiet. Joe can’t find out about Len and me; he would freak out,” Barry pleaded.

“So, not only are you the Flash, but you’re also dating a supervillain?” Iris asked, shaking her head and pulling her hand away from Barry’s as she stood up from the sofa. “When did you start keeping so many secrets?” She asked and that stung. Though maybe not so badly as the look in her eyes… she was looking at Barry as though she didn’t even recognise him anymore. “I won’t tell my dad,” she eventually said, averting her gaze from Barry to the floor.

“Thank you,” Barry said softly. Iris had started looking a little awkward around him again, and Barry figured that it was time to leave. Eddie would be home soon anyway, and Barry would rather not be there when he was. Barry said a quick goodbye to his best friend, and then he left her apartment, starting the long walk home.

He could have simply flashed back to Joe’s house, but Barry decided against it. He needed time to think, to breathe, to clear his head. He also considered taking a detour home and stopping at Len’s house on the way. But Barry didn’t know how well the older man would take it. If he needed some time to himself to think, then Barry wouldn’t push. Not yet, anyway. Barry tried not to get himself too worked up over it; Len couldn’t avoid Barry for long, he still needed the Flash’s help with Sophie. So, one way or another, Barry was going to get to the bottom of this.

[] [] []

The next morning, Barry momentarily considered forgoing the Flash suit. Len knew who he was now anyway. But how would he explain that to his friends? Barry recalled Iris’ comment about how many secrets he was keeping then, feeling the truth of it sit wrong in his stomach. How had Barry become so accustomed to lying to his friends and family? But telling them the truth about this… it wasn’t an option; at least, not right then, anyway.

Barry sighed as he zipped into the Flash suit, tugging the cowl down and over his face. Then he made his way to STAR Labs.

Arriving in the cortex, Barry let out a sigh of relief as he saw that Len was already there with Cisco and Caitlin. Part of Barry had worried that his boyfriend wouldn’t show this morning. Though, Barry supposed he shouldn’t have been surprised to be proven wrong. Because, whatever issue Len had with Barry, he was still a dad: he would put Sophie above everything else in his life.

Len glanced Barry’s way when he skidded to a stop in the cortex, a few stray papers lifting into the air off of Cisco’s desk. Len had the parka on again today, and Barry felt a little disappointed by that because he thought that Len looked especially hot in his leather jacket. Though not as hot as he looked without it. Barry had to stop that train of thought in its tracks before he found himself getting a little too hot and bothered.

Barry smiled and Len just… looked away. And that was it. No flirting, no staring, no nothing. Len just turned back to Cisco and watched the young engineer make a few last-minute tweaks to the new power dampeners.

But maybe that was okay? Len had only been flirting with the Flash so hard because he was trying to make Barry crack… so, the lack of flirting didn’t necessarily mean anything. Did it? Barry couldn’t actually be sure of anything until he spoke to Len, but he sure hoped that they were going to be okay.

“And… done!” Cisco said, lifting his screwdriver triumphantly. Barry moved closer to get a good look at the new and improved power dampening bracelet that Cisco had created for Sophie. It looked similar to a silver bangle, with snowflakes etched into the metal. It was simple and cute. “Now, remember, it’s just a prototype. So, there might be a few glitches,” Cisco said as Len picked up the bracelet and turned it over on his hands.

“Thank you,” Len said, surprising everything in the room. After a moment of pure shock, Cisco grinned up at him and shrugged.

“Just doing my job,” the engineer laughed, pulling a small smile from Len’s lips. But that smile slipped as he glanced back at Barry.

“I should go,” he said, placing the bracelet into its box and shoving that into his coat pocket.

“But you’ve only just got here,” Cait protested. “We haven’t gone through our updates yet,” she said, and Len shook his head.

“Sophie doesn’t remember the night of the explosion, and you’ve said yourself that you can’t do much else without seeing her in person,” Len said, more direct than normal but not entirely harshly. “And we’re not at that point yet. So, unless you have something new to add, I just want to go back home to my daughter.” Len sounded tired, and Barry yearned to reach out to him but couldn’t.

After a long moment, Caitlin shook her head. They had been going around and around in circles over the past few days trying to figure out ways to help Len and Sophie, but without being able to run tests on her, they were limited in what they could uncover. None of Team Flash liked to admit it, but they were stumped now. So, Len just sighed and nodded his head, barely making eye contact with Barry as he took his first steps towards the exit.

“Then I guess I’ll be on my way,” he said, and none of them could find any reason why he should stay. Though Barry was desperately trying his hardest to do just that.

“What’s wrong with him?” Cait asked once Len had already left the cortex and was safely out of earshot.

“Maybe he’s sad because the Flash won’t give him a bone,” Cisco teased, and Barry rolled his eyes. Caitlin let out a small huff of a laugh and looked as though she was going to respond, but Barry started backing out of the room too.

“I’ll be right back,” he said and didn’t wait for an answer as he spun on his heels to follow Len. Barry caught up to him by the elevators. Len was just waiting there for him, leaning back against the wall with his arms crossed as though he knew that Barry would be right behind him. “Hey,” Barry said as he drew closer. “Are you okay?”

“Peachy,” Len replied with a shrug. Barry frowned as he tried to figure out where to go with that.

“Then why have you been ignoring my calls?” Barry asked. “I thought we were working things out.”

“There’s nothing to work out. We’re fine.”

“Clearly that isn’t true,” Barry insisted, taking a step forward. “You can talk to me, Len,” he said and waited for Len to speak. When it became painfully obvious that Len wasn’t going to give, Barry sighed and pulled the cowl down on his suit so that he could run his hand through his hair. He knew that questioning Len on this right now was going to get him nowhere, so he decided to change tactics. “Can I ask… how did you figure it out?” He said instead.

“Your identity, you mean? You weren’t exactly subtle, Barry,” Len drawled, and for a moment Barry thought that was all he was going to say on the matter, but then Len was talking again. “Well, for one, you’re suspiciously stronger than you look. Plus, you eat far too much food, far too quickly, considering how skinny you are.”

“Hey!” Barry muttered, affronted. He was not ‘skinny’. Len let out a small laugh at Barry’s outburst, and it warmed Barry’s chest.

“Let’s not forget that you recognised me instantly when we first met, but I am 100% sure I’ve never seen you when I was brought into the precinct… I would remember,” Len said with a wink which made Barry blush from head to toe, but ultimately just confused him further. “And your best friend just so happens to be an expert on all things metahumans and has a connection to the Flash, too?”

That one made Barry feel a bit guilty… he’d known that he should have tried harder to stop Iris from writing those blogs. And he should have never indulged himself by going to visit her as the Flash so often… It really could put her life at danger. Maybe now that she knew his secret, she would consider taking all the blog posts down?

“But the final nail in the coffin had to have been the way that you helped Sophie through her attack…” Len was shaking his head. “Only a metahuman could do that,” he finished, and Barry felt tense all of a sudden, Len picked up on it instantly. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“And that’s another thing, Barry Allen: you’re a really bad liar.” Len had dropped the teasing lilt in his voice now, coming across much more serious and maybe a bit concerned. And Len had every right to be apprehensive because Barry was freaking out. Not because Len and Iris both knew now, nor because of how apparently obvious he’d been about his secret identity… he actually felt relieved about not having to keep secrets from either of them now. But there was something else that Len had said which struck a little too close to home.

The thing that had convinced Len that Barry was the Flash… it was the way he had coached Sophie through controlling her powers?

And wasn’t that exactly what Wells had done to Barry when he had been dealing with the Tricksters a few weeks ago? It certainly hadn’t escaped Barry’s notice how well his mentor had talked him through phasing… it had gone well past theorising and actually sounded as though Wells was talking from experience. Barry hadn’t wanted to believe it, he still didn’t, but he’d come to realise that there was something not quite right about Dr Wells. Barry had been trying so hard to dismiss this gut feeling he’d had about his mentor for the past few weeks, but it had been getting more and more difficult as time went on, and now Len was saying the exact same things about Barry, and he had turned out to be right so… what if Barry was right too?

But Barry couldn’t do it. He couldn’t speak those words out loud. Because to say them would make them real, give them weight and meaning, and Barry didn’t think he was ready for that yet.

“Then I guess we’re both keeping secrets,” Barry laughed, trying for light-hearted but missing by a mile, and Len shrugged.

“I guess we are,” he said, pushing himself up off the wall and moving towards the elevators, reaching for the button which called for the lift.

“Don’t go,” Barry pleaded, his voice hushed. Len’s hand froze a centimetre away from the button. Slowly, he lowered his hand and turned back around to face Barry once more. His face was almost entirely closed off, but his eyes… his eyes shone with so much unbridled emotion that it left Barry speechless.

Wordlessly, Barry stepped forward and brought his hand up to cup Len’s jaw. He paused there for a moment, giving Len a chance to pull away if he wanted to, before Barry dipped his head down to brush his lips against Len’s. It was a soft caress, warm and sweet. And Barry was happy to feel Len’s lips moving against his own as he eagerly returned the kiss.

Len’s hand drifted up, finding his way into Barry’s hair and holding on tightly as his lips opened to Barry’s tongue. And for a moment, it was just the two of them inside their own little bubble of reality. No Flash and Captain Cold. No CCPD. No STAR Labs. No Cisco and Caitlin. No Iris. No Joe. Just the two of them, holding each other tight and never wanting to let go. And all Barry could feel was Len’s hands, his mouth, his tongue.

But the bubble had to burst eventually. And, all too soon, Barry had to come back up for air.

Barry leant their foreheads together, eyes closed, but he could already feel Len tensing as though their lips against each other had been the only thing keeping everything else at bay. And now the connection was broken, the rest of the world just came flooding back in. After a few seconds had passed, Barry opened his eyes again and stood back up straighter.

“Don’t push me away,” Barry begged, his voice nothing more than a low whisper. Len looked at him for a moment before releasing his grip on Barry’s hair and drifting his hand down his jaw to slowly wipe his thumb along Barry’s bottom lip.

“I’ll try not to,” he promised, and he leant back in for one last chaste kiss before he left Barry’s arms and exited STAR Labs.

[] [] []

“I said show me the new future,” Thawne grunted, staring down the newspaper article where the words ‘Iris West-Thawne’ was scrawled across the by-line.

The future has not changed,” Gideon responded, and Thawne felt like hitting something. This wasn’t possible. Iris now knew that Barry was the Flash, how could her future still be with Eddie? Thawne needed to find a way to fix this and fast before the future became fixed and he became nothing more than a time apparition. A ghost. An anomaly to be hunted down and destroyed by a time wraith. Eobard wouldn’t let that happen. Iris West could not marry Eddie Thawne.

“How is this possible?” Eobard asked the AI. “Iris knows the truth now, and Allen and Snart broke up. What else is there that’s getting in the way?”

It appears that Mr Allen and Mr Snart have not ended their relationship,” Gideon said, and Thawne’s jaw clenched tight.

“Show me,” he demanded, and the AI produced a video of the pair kissing inside STAR Labs this very morning. And Eobard snapped. How could they still be together now that Snart knew the truth about Barry’s feelings for Ms West? That wasn’t how this was supposed to go. But, fine, if Snart wanted to make things difficult, then Thawne could be difficult too. “Where are they now?” Eobard demanded, and Gideon brought up a live video of Barry’s bedroom where the young speedster was fast asleep. “And Snart?”

I am unable to locate Leonard Snart at this moment,” the AI responded. Which meant that Captain Cold was likely in his own home. Thawne had put cameras there too, of course, after he’d first discovered Barry’s relationship with the thief. However, they had stopped transmitting signals last week. Thawne worried at first that they had somehow been discovered. But, now that he knew of Sophie’s powers, he realised it was much more likely that the extreme cold temperatures that the child produced when using her powers had somehow interfered with the system and caused it to malfunction. Regardless of the reason, however, Thawne didn’t much like the idea of approaching a man like Leonard Snart without any prior knowledge of his whereabouts and state of mind.

Except, it seemed as though Eobard was left with no choice but to do just that.

Clenching his jaw, Thawne moved towards the yellow suit he stored in the time vault. Quickly, he changed and raced over to the residence of one Leonard Snart. Thawne paused outside the house, noting the downstairs light, which was still switched on, coming to the conclusion that Snart was still awake. Eobard only hoped that the thief was alone tonight and that no unwelcome surprises would meet him inside. Though the threat was definitely there. For one, Thawne knew nothing of this daughter of Snart’s. He thought himself quite well-versed on the heroes and villains of this time, having studied them extensively back home in hopes of understanding everything there was to know about the Flash.

And yet, Thawne had never heard of Snart having a child. Especially not a metahuman child. This Sophie Mendoza was an enigma. It was possible she didn’t exist in the original timeline which Thawne was from. There were many small changes which Thawne’s meddling had created in this time, and although the connection wasn’t instantly obvious, it was possible that something Thawne had done over this past 16 years had led to this child being born. Though it was more likely that this Sophie was simply going to die before anyone could link her to Leonard Snart. Whatever the reason, it didn’t matter much to Thawne. It only bothered him because it meant he was going into this blind in more ways than one, and Eobard wasn’t used to that feeling.

Quickly, Thawne zipped himself inside and ran upstairs until he found an open door. Looking inside, Thawne saw snowflakes adorning the ceiling in glow-in-the-dark paint, and underneath, sleeping soundly, was a small child. Thawne checked over his shoulder in the silent house, checking for any traces of Leonard Snart, before he carefully entered the dark bedroom.

Thawne went slow, his eyes scanning the room for any signs of Snart lurking. But Sophie appeared to be alone. The light streaming in from the hallway shone over the child’s bed, and so Thawne easily noted the silver bracelet attached to her wrist: the new power dampener which Cisco had created.

There was the soft sound of movement in the house below Thawne’s feet: the noise of a cupboard opening and closing, and a tap turning on in the kitchen. Thawne tilted his head to listen closely to the sounds of Leonard Snart downstairs. He heard the pat of bare feet against the hardwood floors in the entryway as Snart moved from room to room, but he did not approach the stairs.

Thawne returned his attention to the young girl fast asleep in front of him, squatting down beside her and brushing the blanket out of the way.

As carefully as he could, Thawne scooped the young child up into his arms. She stirred slightly at being moved but did not wake.

Smiling, Eobard stood up.

He looked down at the child in his arms, so quiet and peaceful. She had the kind of power that could make a man tremble with fear. But with that bracelet on, she was helpless.

Thawne could kill her now without even breaking a sweat.

And maybe he would…

It would certainly make things easy. If Sophie were to die, Thawne highly doubted that Snart would be capable of hiding his dark side for much longer.

With his daughter dead, Captain Cold would implode, taking his relationship with Barry with him.

It was a tempting thought… Thawne brought his hand up, vibrating it, pressing one finger flat against the child’s chest.

It would be easy to end this girl’s life. One little push and this would all be over. He could leave the body here for Snart to discover in the morning, and then just sit back and watch the show.

But then Thawne would lose his leverage.

Eobard slowly moved his hand away from the girl’s chest; he wouldn’t kill her. Not now. If she were dead, then Thawne would have nothing he could use against Snart. But alive, the thief was easily exploitable.

With that thought in mind, Thawne cradled the young child closer in his arms and ran downstairs. He found Leonard Snart in the living room, a drink of whiskey in one hand and a book in the other. Snart dropped both items unceremoniously to the floor as he stood up. Eobard grinned, noting that there was certainly no one else in the house, and the cold gun was nowhere to be seen.

“She’s a sweet young thing, your daughter,” Thawne said, his voice coming out sounding like static due to the way he was vibrating his vocal cords. In his arms, Sophie began to squirm, having woken up after the short trip at superspeed. “It would be a shame if something happened to her.”

“Put her down,” Snart ordered, his voice lacking that drawl which Thawne had become accustomed to hearing. His words were sharp and menacing. Thawne laughed. Without the cold gun, Snart was all bark and no bite.

“Daddy?” The girl in Thawne’s arms whined. Snart spared her only a glance before his eyes trained back on Thawne’s face. Snart took a step forward, and Thawne lifted his vibrating hand.

“Ah, ah, ah,” Thawne clucked. “Come any closer, and I’ll pull her heart out of her chest,” he said. That effectively stopped Snart’s advancement. His eyes were dark with rage, his hands balled up into fists as though he was about to start throwing punches. Thawne had half a mind to let him, he’d get a kick out of breaking Snart’s arm.

Sophie was struggling more and more in Thawne’s grip, whining and shaking with tears. Eobard shook his arm in one sharp jolt and ordered her to be quiet. She only cried louder.

“Disobedient little thing, isn’t she?” Thawne bit out. “For her sake, I hope her father is better at taking orders.”

“What do you want?” Snart demanded. His eyes were still trained on Eobard’s face, though it appeared as though it was taking a lot of effort to stop himself from looking down at his daughter and trying to comfort her.

“I want the Flash,” Thawne said. “I want him broken and begging for mercy.” Snart didn’t outwardly react to that, and Thawne quickly continued on. “But from you, what I want is more simple,” he said. “I want you to leave. Pack up your house and take your daughter out of town. Sever all ties with Central City. And most importantly, stay out of my way,” he growled. “If you don’t, if you keep working with the Flash, I promise you won’t like the consequences.”

Sophie was crying so loud now that Thawne wasn’t sure if Snart could fully hear his threat. Eobard snapped his arm down and back up again, jostling the young girl. She let out a scream, and that was the last thing that Thawne registered before he felt pain shooting through his body. Thawne flinched away, dropping the girl, as his hand turned to solid ice.

His body felt slow and heavy.

He found himself on the floor, lying on his back, blinding pain flowing through every cell in his body. Thawne’s vision swam, and he could barely tell up from down. He had to get out of there, and he had to go now.

Somehow, he managed to scramble to his feet, and then he took off running as fast as he could, phasing through the building and out into the dark night air. Then he kept on going, as far away from Leonard Snart and his daughter as he could manage before his legs gave out on him and Thawne ended up lying face-down in the gravel, clutching his hand and yelling in pain.

Chapter Text

Barry woke to his mobile ringing beside his head.

For one blissful moment, he just groaned and buried his face deeper into his pillow, throwing his comforter over his head. But then his mind cleared a bit more, and he jolted upright, grabbing his phone immediately and pressing accept without even checking the caller ID. Because there was only one reason someone might be calling him this late, and that meant danger.

“Hello?” He asked into the phone.

Barry.” Len’s voice was raw like he’d been chewing glass. He was angry, that was clear. But there were other emotions piled in there which Barry couldn’t quite decipher, and they made his gut twist. Barry was up and out of bed before Len could even say anything else.

“What’s wrong? Where are you?” He asked, putting the phone between his shoulder and ear as he routed for fresh clothes.

“Home,” Len said. There was a weighted pause, and Barry’s mind raced with worry over why Len would be calling him at, Barry checked the time on his bedside clock, gone 1am, sounding like he did. “Someone broke in,” he said. “Sophie was attacked.”

“I’ll be right there,” Barry said, not even pausing to take in what Len had said. He hung up so that he could pull his clothes on easier, and then ran right to Len’s house. He was there, phasing in through the front door, barely 10 seconds later. Len was standing in the archway between the entrance hall and the living room, still holding his phone in one hand and his cold gun in the other.

Barry realised that he probably should have knocked instead of barging straight into the house because he was quickly facing down the barrel of the charged cold gun. Len was tense, but after a second he lowered the gun to point towards the floor instead. Barry looked over Len’s shoulder, seeing Sophie lying down, asleep, on Len’s couch.

“What happened? Who broke in?”

“I was hoping you could tell me that,” Len said, pocketing his mobile and drawing Barry’s gaze again. He saw the red tinge to Len’s eyes, as though he had been crying recently. “It was another speedster.” Barry felt his blood run cold.

“A man in yellow?” He asked, dreading the answer, and Len nodded. Barry let out a shaking breath, feeling sick.

“Who is he?” Len demanded.

“He’s…” Barry paused. If he indicated Wells in this now, after Sophie had been so recently attacked, who knew how Len would react. “He’s the man that killed my mother,” Barry said instead. He needed just a little longer to think before he spoke Wells’ name. He needed to be sure. “Why was he here? What did he do?” Barry asked. Len looked back towards where Sophie lay asleep on the sofa as he spoke.

“He grabbed her while she was in bed,” Len said. Barry’s heart twisted in his chest as he heard the broken tone to Len’s voice, as though the words were being physically torn out of him. “He said he’d kill her if I didn’t stop working with the Flash.”

“How does he know we’re helping you?” Barry asked, hoping there was an obvious answer to the question which didn’t involve Harrison Wells.

“Do I look like I have answers, Barry?” Len snapped, turning to face him again.

“Sorry,” Barry winced. He hadn’t meant to push Len with questions that neither of them had solutions to. Sighing, Barry ran his hand through his hair. “I need to call my team.”

“Here,” Len said, moving into the living room and picking a small silver object off of the coffee table. Barry frowned as Len returned, holding it out for Barry to take. It was the new power dampening bracelet which Cisco had created for Sophie. “It malfunctioned,” Len said. “Sophie defended herself. She hurt him.”

Barry’s head shot up, staring at Len with an open mouth. The Man in Yellow was hurt? Barry could barely believe it. Barry himself had faced up against the man who called himself the Reverse Flash several times this year, but he’d never been able to get the upper hand. But now… now there was a chance. If only Barry could act quickly enough to take advantage of this.

“How hurt?” Barry asked, taking an urgent step forward. Len shook his head.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “Hurt enough that he dropped Sophie and ran off.” Barry frowned over at the young girl sleeping once again.

“Is she okay?” He asked. Though, Barry imagined that if Sophie were injured, Len would be hovering around her like a mother hen, even as she slept.

“She’s fine,” Len confirmed, and Barry nodded. He was about to speak when there was a loud rumble of a motorbike speeding down the street, the headlights flashing across Len’s living room, tyres squealing to a stop right outside the house. Barry tensed, but Len just shook his head and walked calmly past Barry towards the front door, opening it just as Barry heard the click of heels racing up the driveway.

A woman stormed in, holding a gold helmet. She was wearing grey biker leathers with black heeled boots which came up to her knees. The woman had long brown curls, slightly mussed from the helmet, and was wearing no makeup, but she was undeniably attractive. She was also vaguely familiar, though Barry couldn’t quite place where he had met her before.

“Where is she?” The woman demanded, sparing Barry only a quick glance before her eyes landed back on Len.

“Asleep, no thanks to you,” Len drawled, nodding his head towards the living room behind Barry. The woman stepped closer to see Sophie lying on the sofa, wrapped up in a blanket. “You probably just woke up half the street.” Len closed the door at the same time that the woman turned back to face him. Barry felt like an outsider as his eyes flicked from her to Len again, unsure who the newcomer was.

“Barry, this is Lisa,” Len said, taking pity on him.

“Oh, the sister,” Barry said, recognising the name and feeling a little relieved. He turned towards Lisa and held out his hand for her to shake. “I’m-”

“The Flash,” Lisa finished for him, and Barry stared at her for a second before dropping his hand back to his side.

“I was going to say ‘Len’s boyfriend’, but… yeah,” Barry admitted with a nervous laugh, not seeing the point in denying it when Lisa clearly already knew the truth. Len gave him an apologetic look, but Barry just waved it off. They had more important issues to worry about here than Barry’s identity. If Len trusted Lisa with Barry’s secret, then Barry was sure he could trust her too. Barry opened his mouth to say just that when he suddenly realised where he recognised Lisa from. “You were the hostage!” Barry said, perhaps a little too loudly. Barry sent a glance back over his shoulder to check that Sophie was still asleep, nearly missing the dramatic shrug that Lisa gave him in response.

“And you were very adorable trying to help,” Lisa teased. Barry just blinked at her, and then at Len. It had all been fake… the whole scene that Len had created, threatening a hostage with the cold gun to get the Flash’s attention… it had all been fake. The realisation felt like a knot loosening in Barry’s chest.

“I… I need to inform my team about the attack,” Barry said, getting back on track. “I know you don’t want them to meet Sophie, but-”

“It’s fine,” Len interrupted, shaking his head. “You can bring them here.”

“I’ll be right back,” Barry said, nodding; he stepped closer to Len to press a quick, reassuring, kiss to his boyfriend’s cheek, and then he sped away. Barry’s first stop was STAR Labs to put on his Flash suit, then he quickly zipped over to both Cisco’s and Caitlin’s apartments, waking them up and giving a quick run-through of what had happened, breezing over the fact that Len had Barry’s phone number and hoping that neither of them would pick up on it.

While he was at Cisco’s house and waiting for the young engineer to get dressed, he rang Joe to fill him in. And then, after a moment, he rang Iris too. She had already told Eddie that Barry was the Flash, and Barry was sure that they would need everyone that they could get to help take down the Man In Yellow.

[] [] []

True to his word, Barry had returned to Len’s house with Cisco and Caitlin only minutes after he’d run off. This time, he’d thought to knock and alert Len to his presence rather than just running directly through the door. Which… how had Barry even done that in the first place? The other speedster had done it too, Len recalled. The memory left a sour taste at the back of Len’s tongue.

Len had just stood there, helpless, as the yellow speedster had threatened Sophie’s life. Len had promised that he would never let anything bad happen to her, but he had broken that promise. He was useless against this speedster, and Len had never felt more terrified in his entire life.

But then Sophie had started screaming, and suddenly her eyes were glowing that unearthly blue again. Whatever happened next was too quick for Len’s eyes to keep up with, but suddenly both Sophie and the evil speedster were on the floor. Len had dashed forward to sweep Sophie up in his arms, not even thinking about the risk to his own life if she accidentally used her powers on him, and when he’d looked up again, the yellow speedster had already scrambled to his feet and was running out of Len’s house through his living room wall.

Len had sat there, rocking Sophie in his arms and humming a soothing melody into her hair. His heart was racing, and his breath was coming out in short pants. But Sophie soon quietened, her eyes closing as her powers left her, draining her of her energy as they went. She had been asleep within minutes. But Len couldn’t let her go. He had got up and grabbed the cold gun from the safe in his bedroom, then he’d returned back downstairs to the sofa, sitting there with Sophie asleep in his arms for another 20 minutes before his brain kicked back into gear.

Len had laid her down and called Lisa, telling her everything that had just happened and hearing her scrambling to get to them. Then, after a minute of sitting in silence, Len had called Barry too.

When Len had first put together that Barry Allen was the Flash, his initial instinct had been to run away. Barry knew too much about his life in Central City, and if it weren’t for Sophie, Len would have simply cut his losses and disappeared. But he couldn’t bring himself to uphaul his daughter’s entire life like that. She had already lost her mother, and she was going through so much as it was, that Len hated the idea of adding one more thing onto the list of problems.

That was why he had listened when Lisa came up with her plan.

It had been his sister’s idea to confront the Flash and get some information from him. What happened to all the meta criminals which suspiciously disappeared after facing up against the Flash was Len’s biggest concern. Though, anything else he could weasel out of Barry was a bonus. And they were prepared to keep doing it until they’d fully figured Barry out.

However, it hadn’t quite gone down as planned.

Barry hadn’t wanted to play along, and that made Len nervous. He’d thought that Barry would be too caught off-guard to think the situation through, but Barry had put together all too quickly that Len’s motives had something to do with Sophie. Len hadn’t wanted to let that line of thought carry on any further, so he’d powered down his gun and, as planned, used Lisa as a distraction to get away. They had expected Barry to be more concerned with consoling the ‘hostage’ than racing after Len. But once again, Barry was proving Len wrong.

Because Barry had chased after him, caging him in and not letting the issue with Sophie drop until Len was asking for the Flash’s help, the words slipping from his mouth without his permission.

And then, instead of turning Len into the cops, Barry had zipped them away to STAR Labs, acting as though he really wanted to help Len. And just when Len had thought the situation couldn’t get more complex, Barry had actually defended Len to his friends and family. It had been that moment, right then, that Len could no longer pretend that what was happening between himself and Barry Allen wasn’t real: it wasn’t just some twisted game or trick. Barry cared.

And Len… well, Len didn’t really know how to process that.

Len wasn’t particularly proud of how he handled things from then on. He was angry, okay? Not necessarily at Barry, but at the world. He was angry that Andy had died. He was angry that he’d missed out on so much of his daughter's life so far. He was angry that Sophie was suffering. And, more than any of that, Len was angry that he didn’t know how to help.

So, the teasing, the flirting… it had all just been a bit of fun. But Len had taken it too far, pushing Barry to breaking point. He hadn’t wanted to hurt Barry and the fact that he had sat wrong inside Len’s stomach. And that was just one more thing for Len to be angry about.

Because Leonard Snart didn’t deserve Barry Allen.

But now, here they all were: Lisa was sitting on the sofa in the living room with Sophie still asleep on her lap and pretending as though she wasn’t eavesdropping while Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, Joe West, and even Iris and Detective Thawne all piled in around Len’s dining room table. Len stood in the archway into the room so that he had a good view of Sophie and was closer to his daughter in case anything else happened.

West was particularly unhappy with this arrangement, though; apparently, no one had told him that Eddie and Iris were now in on Barry’s secret.

“It’s… it’s a pretty new development,” Barry was trying to explain. Len let out a short, humourless laugh. It had been approximately 40 hours since Iris had walked in on Barry and Len in a rather precarious position, discovering Barry’s identity as the Flash. But as she had been figuring that out, Len had discovered something of his own: Barry was in love with Iris West.

It was easy to see if you watched how they interacted with one another. Even more obvious when Iris had stormed out of STAR Labs after their argument and Barry had practically shut down. The young man had looked as though he was going to physically throw up… And then Barry had all but confirmed it when he’d cringed at the thought of Iris being his ‘sister’.

The realisation that Barry’s heart belonged to someone else had hurt. Len had needed some space to figure things out, which was why he had left; but he hadn’t come to any kind of conclusion by the next morning when he’d entered STAR Labs to pick up the new power dampening bracelet which Cisco had made. And then he’d spoken to Barry again, and everything had just been so confusing ever since. He didn’t know where they stood now.

“It’s not safe for you here, Iris,” West continued, and Iris looked pissed at that.

“And where, exactly, would she be safer?” Len asked, curious how West would respond. Barry shot him a glance, his eyes pleading for Len not to make things worse. But Len honestly couldn’t understand West’s logic. “So long as she’s here, she’s surrounded by two armed police detectives, the Flash, and Captain Cold,” Len drawled, lifting his gun pointedly and putting on a smirk. “The way I see it, this room is the safest place in Central City.”

“You, shut up,” West glared at him, pointing a finger Len’s way. Len’s smirk only grew wider.

“No, Dad, he’s right,” Iris said. “This whole ‘keeping me in the dark’ thing? How does that help anyone?” She demanded. “Clearly, the Man In Yellow knows more than he should about us. Who is to say he wouldn’t come for Eddie or me next? We can’t protect ourselves if we don’t know what’s really going on.”

I would protect you,” West said, and Len ground his jaw. He wondered if he had sounded so stupid last week when he’d vowed to always protect Sophie.

“Joe,” Thawne said, shaking his head as he ran a hand soothingly up and down Iris’ arm. “With all due respect, Iris doesn’t live with you anymore.” Thawne looked as though he was going to continue speaking, but Joe interrupted him with clipped words.

“You’re not family yet, Eddie. You don’t get a say in this,” he said, and Len rolled his eyes. West saw and took a threatening step closer. “Have you got something to say to me?” He demanded of Len, and Barry quickly jumped in the way, placing a hand on the detective’s chest to hold him back.

“Okay, everybody just… take a breath,” Barry commanded. “We’re not here to fight each other, we’re here to track down the Reverse Flash.”

“The Reverse Flash?” Len asked, quirking an eyebrow Cisco’s way. “Is that the best you could come up with?” He asked the young engineer, who raised his hands defensively.

“Hey, it wasn’t me,” Cisco said. “I mean… it was. But the Man in Yellow said it first.”

“I don’t like this, Flash,” West was saying, ignoring Len and Cisco’s exchange as he directed his words to Barry alone. “After everything Snart has done, you’re just going to trust him? How?”

“I’m not exactly keen on this situation either, you know,” Len drawled, and West shot him daggers over Barry’s shoulder. “What?” Len asked. “Did you think I would be happy to have two cops and the entirety of Team Flash in my dining room?” Len asked.

“Actually,” Caitlin interrupted whatever Joe was going to say. “We’re not all here yet. Where’s Dr Wells?” She asked, and Len noticed the way that Barry tensed up suddenly.

“I haven’t called him,” Barry said. Len narrowed his eyes at his boyfriend, watching for any tell. After a second, Barry brought his hand up over the back of his head as though he wanted to run in through his hair. Bingo. Barry was definitely keeping something from them, and it was about Harrison Wells. “He, uh, he wouldn’t want to be here. He doesn’t much like the idea of working with Snart.”

“Well, neither does Joe,” Caitlin pointed out, frowning.

“This is different,” Barry brushed off.

“How?” Caitlin demanded, and Barry’s eyes glanced nervously over towards Len. No, actually he was looking passed Len and into the living room behind, where Sophie was sleeping. Len cast a look at his daughter lying in Lisa’s lap, and the implication of Barry’s subconscious glance made his blood boil.

“He’s the other speedster, isn’t he?” Len asked. He tried to control the rage in his voice, but he knew he failed. The whole room fell silent as all eyes turned to Barry. Barry, who was staring at Len with those big scared eyes.

“I…” Barry stuttered, glancing around the room at his friends and family. “I don’t know.”

The room erupted into noise as Len snapped his jaw shut, worried about what he might say and regret in his fit of anger.

“That’s ridiculous!” Caitlin insisted, though a quick look around the room showed that she was the only one who thought the idea was impossible. Len tightened his hand into a fist, squeezing tight until his knuckles began to sting and his nails dug into the palm of his hand. Then he released it again, feeling the blood flow back into his fingers. “Dr Wells isn’t the Reverse Flash. He’s our friend. Our mentor.”

“I know,” Barry said. Len balled his hand up into a fist again, clenching and releasing over and over again to keep his anger in check. Barry wasn’t making eye contact with him anymore, but Len’s eyes were trained on the Flash with a laser focus.

“I thought he was paralysed?” Detective Thawne asked, and Caitlin waved her hand at him to emphasise the detective’s point.

“Is he, though?” West asked. Caitlin was silent for a few seconds. Len was too busy staring Barry down to see what expression she was wearing.

“And… why would he kill-” Caitlin’s voice quickly cut off as she seemed to remember Len was in the room with them, not aware that Len already knew what she was going to say. “Why would he do what he did 15 years ago?” She re-phrased. “So long before the Flash ever existed? It doesn’t make any sense.”

The room was quiet. Clearly, no one had answers. Len clenched his fist once more.

“Cisco, say something,” Caitlin urged. Len did glance away from Barry then, turning to the suspiciously quiet young engineer. Cisco had been staring off into space, but now he was glancing around the room and looking as though he was going to throw up.

“I… I’ve been having these… dreams,” Cisco admitted. He was shaking his head slightly as though what he was about to say was ridiculous, but he kept on going anyway. “Except, they don’t feel like dreams. They feel real.”

“What are they about?” Eddie asked. Cisco looked at him, and then at Caitlin, before his eyes finally landed on Barry.

“Dr Wells is the Reverse Flash,” Cisco said slowly. “And… he kills me.”

Len’s fist tightened even further still, to the point where he honestly thought his nails might cut into his skin, and then he released it again.

“This is insane,” Caitlin said, and Cisco nodded.

“I agree.”

“Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Wells is the Man In Yellow,” Iris said, leaning forward on her chair and resting her elbows on Len’s table. “How do we prove it?”

“I’ve been investigating this man for six months, and I’ve gotten nowhere,” West said, shaking his head. Len clenched his hand into a fist again. Had everyone in this room suspected Harrison Wells of being a murderer, and none of them thought to warn Len when he got his daughter involved? “Maybe it’s time to go back to the beginning? To Starling City and investigate the crash which had led Wells to setting up shop in Central.”

“You can’t be serious?” Len asked, angry. He couldn’t keep quiet any longer. “Screw waiting around for evidence to fall into your lap. I say we make a move now.”

“You don’t get a vote, Snart,” West bit out at the same time that Thawne said: “We can’t just go after him without proof.” Len shook his head in disbelief. Cops.

“If we strike now, the worst-case scenario is we’re wrong, and you’ve offended your friend,” Len said, his voice tight. He released his hand and felt the blood flowing through his fingers once more. “In that case, I’m sure you can all bake him an apology cake and sing kumbaya together later.” Len pushed off the wall he was leaning against and took a step forward into the room. “But if we’re right and we delay making a move, we’re going to risk tipping Wells off with your stellar lying skills.”

“So, that’s your play?” West demanded. “Act now, apologise later?”

“Would you be saying anything different if it were your daughter he had attacked?” Len asked. West’s mouth snapped shut, his eyes landing on Iris. For a moment, Len thought he wasn’t going to speak. But then the moment broke.

“Why should we trust you?” West demanded. “The last time I looked, you were a criminal.”

I trust him, Joe,” Barry said, jumping in between them before Len could get any further riled up. West turned his glare to Barry, shaking his head. “Isn’t that enough for you?”

“You know what he’s done,” West said. “How can you believe in a guy like that?”

“Because…” Barry looked at a loss for words and Len felt bad at the reminder of how he and Barry had really met. The first time Len had met the Flash, he’d been robbing an armoured van. The second time, he’d killed a man just so that he could escape. The third time, Len had derailed a train to get the upper hand. None of that was quite the meet-cute of their fourth meeting, and Len didn’t understand how Barry could forgive any of it. But that was just the kind of man that Barry was. And it was exactly the reason why he deserved better than Leonard Snart.

Barry cast his eyes over his shoulder, looking between Len and West before his eyes finally landed on Iris. Barry took a deep breath in and let it out slowly. A second passed before Barry turned to face Joe full-on as he spoke, reaching up and slowly pulling the cowl down to reveal his face.

“Len’s my boyfriend.”