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what the future holds

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In their defense, random noises, be they whistles or explosions, were not usually cause for much concern aboard the Waverider. When the first loud bang had echoed somewhere in the distance, Barry had expressed concern, and Sara quickly reassured him that it was normal. Barry’s brow furrowed and he glanced to Len for confirmation; Len had given him a tiny nod and Barry had been somewhat mollified. After all, Ray and Mick were not currently in the room, and any science experiments they were working on could have made the noise. Or Zari attempting a repair could have set off a random noise, though those were usually followed by a yelled apology.

Len wondered how long it would take for Barry to get used to the mania of the Waverider; probably longer than he’d be here, if everything went to plan.

Or maybe he wouldn’t get a chance, as the next explosion seemed to be a bit worse than before, and closer to boot.

“Okay,” Sara’s voice was tighter than usual, obviously trying to keep her concern under wraps for the speedster’s sake. It wasn’t everyday they had a functional superhero aboard. “So that one didn’t sound great , but I’m sure-”

Bang!

A deafening explosion burst between them, blasting the members that were in the room apart. Barry careened into Len, bodies slamming together. The floor disappeared beneath them, and suddenly all Len could feel was Barry against him, falling with him. Len reached out and grasped at him, feeling Barry’s own hands entangling in his parka.

Everything was a sickening swirl of blue and black, white stars dotting his vision as they fell, spinning through the air. Barry let out a horrified shout and they drew closer together, holding onto the one thing they could feel.

Lighting flickered and burst, careening past them too fast to process, vague shapes of buildings and landmarks whipping past.

Then there was land beneath them, but it was coming too fast, they were going to slam right into it. And they did, hitting it with the force of a speedster running straight at a brick wall.

Air left their lungs with a whoosh, leaving them gasping through cracked lungs on pavement.

As Len laid there, desperately trying to pull one true breath into his chest, he tried to take stock of his limbs. They all seemed to be there, unbroken and wrapped around Barry in a strange embrace. He could feel Barry’s chest stuttering against his, fist clenched at his shirt and legs shifting between his.

A rattling gasp tore through Barry’s lips. “Fuck.”

Len would have laughed if he could breathe.

Lifting his head like it pained him, Barry blinked, trying to focus on Len. “Are you okay?”

Wordlessly, Len nodded his head, focusing on the pull of breaths that were coming a little faster.

Barry’s fingers moved from his shirt to run down the side of his chest, moving with intent. His other hand felt at his own body, checking each limb.

“Wh-what are you doing?” Len managed, raw in the back of his throat.

“Checking for broken limbs,” Barry answered, satisfied with his own body and focusing on Len’s now.

“I’d tell you if I had broken bones,” Len grumbled, struggling to sit up beside Barry.

Barry raised an eyebrow, a scrape of blood running through it from hitting the ground. “Would you?”

“If it was relevant,” Len spit. He looked around at the empty street they were on. “You don’t see anyone either right?”

“No,” Barry said. “I’m glad you said something; I thought I just hit my head.”

“Oh you definitely hit your head,” Len grumbled, struggling to his feet, holding his hand down to Barry.

“Oh ha ha,” Barry said, grasping at his hand and allowing Len to pull him up.

“You’re bleeding, Scarlet,” Len rolled his eyes, then regretted it. The world spun for a moment. “I’m being serious. Mostly.”

Barry raised a hand to touch his eyebrow, hissing when he touched the scrape. “Oh.” He looked around. “Where do you think everyone is?”

“I don’t know,” Len said, feeling for the cold gun. It had thankfully been cushioned from the concrete. “But I’m going to find out.”

“We are,” Barry corrected, subconsciously shifting closer to Len. “Which way do you wanna start?”

Len held up a finger and listened. Barry stared at him, watching his features shift from concentration to knowledge.

“There’s something happening that way,” Len declared and set off.

Barry kept up easily, striding along beside him. It was odd to walk side by side, when they had so often been on opposing sides. It would have been almost nice had they not been tossed from their ride and were now eerily alone.

They rounded a corner and Barry gasped at the crowd.

“Shit,” he said. “Do we hide?”

Len drew him back to a wall, peeking around it. “We need disguises.” He looked to Barry. “Can you run and grab clothes?”

Barry blinked at him. “I don’t have any money on me.”

Len stared at him.

Barry made a face. “You mean steal them?”

“Yes Scarlet, steal yourself an outfit and me a ball cap,” Len rolled his eyes again, the world spinning less this time. “We can’t walk around looking like this. We don’t even know where we are.”

Barry huffed a sigh. “Fine. Stay here.”

Before Len could retort about where would he even go? Barry had disappeared and returned, wearing a red hoodie and jeans, holding a ball cap out towards Len with an expectant look.

Len smirked a little, accepting the hat. “So where did you leave the leather?”

“I don’t wear leather, oh my God, ” Barry answered. “Just come on.”

He grabbed Len’s hand and tugged him out to the crowd, pushing into it gently.

“What’s going on?” he asked someone standing next to them, craning his neck to the center of the square.

“You guys didn’t hear?” the man looked to them. “Captain Cold has an announcement to make.”

Len stiffened behind Barry, his hand accidentally tightening it’s hold on Barry’s. Barry squeezed it back reassuringly and Len tried not to be comforted by that.

“Must’ve missed it,” Barry said. “Any idea-”

His sentence was cut off as a huge cheer when through the crowd, as yellow lightning zipped through it to the empty middle.

Barry’s eyes grew wide as he recognized himself grinning at the crowd.

“Hi everybody,” Other-Barry said with a wave. “What’s this I’ve heard about an announcement?”

Everyone laughed and watched in excitement, cheering for their hero.

Suddenly, the tell-tale sounds of the cold gun, fire gun, and gold gun whirred from off to Barry and Len’s left, behind the crowd.

“Stand back folks!” Len’s familiar voice called out, a pathway being painted with gold and ice. “We don’t want anybody catching a cold .”

Instead of shrieks of terror, groans and laughs ran through the crowd at Other-Len’s terrible pun.

Even Other-Barry, who should have been in a defensive stance, was simply standing upright, smiling with a fond look in his eyes.

“Captain Cold,” Other-Barry called. “The good people of Central City and I heard about the announcement you had for us.”

A long line of ice drew up almost to Other-Barry’s feet, almost like a carpet line. Other-Len slid down the ice and came to a stop in front of him.

“Dramatic,” Barry muttered and Len stepped on his foot in retaliation. “Ow!”

“Shut up,” Len murmured, his hand tightening on Barry’s.

“I don’t remember this,” Barry muttered. “Are we-”

“In the future,” Len said. “And I said to shut up.”

“The Scarlet Speedster,” Other-Len announced, walking in a little circle around Other-Barry. “You and I have been playing this game an awful long time.”

“We have,” Other-Barry turned to face him, a soft smile on his face.

Other-Len grinned wide. “And it’s been fun. Going toe to toe; working together. I’d go so far as to say it’s been the best time of my life.”

“What the hell is going on?” Len growled under his breath.

“How the hell should I know?” Barry asked. “Don’t ask questions when you told me to shut up.”

Other-Barry’s smile widened to match Other-Len’s grin. “Mine too.”

“With that in mind...” Other-Len suddenly began to lower himself.

Barry’s strangled gasp was lost in a sudden wave of similar, less choked gasps around them as Other-Len was suddenly on one knee.

Other-Barry’s jaw dropped as he stared down, surprise etched on every inch of his face not covered by his cowl.

“Flash,” Other-Len said, pulling out a little black box from his pocket and opening it. “Will you marry me?”

Yes! ” Other-Barry cried out, loud enough for everyone to hear, pulling Other-Len up into the tightest, most passionate embrace that Len had ever witnessed.

The crowd erupted into screams of joy, hats soaring up into the air and tears streaming down the cheeks of emotional supporters.

Beside each other, suddenly very conscious they were holding hands, Barry and Len stood rigid.

“C’mon,” Len muttered, too quiet to hear under the celebrating crowd. He tugged Barry back, away from the spectacle that was making his ears burn hot.

Barry’s cheeks were practically glowing with the blush heating them as they broke free of the crowd. “What do we do?”

“We wait for the others,” Len growled, tugging his hand free and fixing his shirt. He was thankful he hadn’t been wearing the parka when the blast had hit; he didn’t need to be mistaken for his counterpart and mobbed with congratulations. “They’ll find us and we’ll get out of here.”

“How long will that take?”

“Not long.” Len neglected to mention Ray and Kendra’s stint in the 60’s.

“Should we go somewhere?” Barry gnawed at his lip, looking around.

They paused, evaluating their options.

“I need a drink,” Len said and set off down the street, Barry hurrying to keep up.

They didn’t go to Saints & Sinners, not wanting to chance recognition, but instead chose a seedy bar that Len had frequented once or twice and knew to be somewhat safe. As much as he could know, however many years down the line.

While Len ordered something a little stronger, Barry just asked for a beer.

Len raised his eyebrows. “That’s it?”

“The alcohol doesn’t affect me,” Barry murmured quietly. “Some of us don’t have the luxury of forgetting things in a bar.”

“I’m not-” Len nearly snarled his words. “I’m not attempting to forget. I’m attempting to cope.

“My apologies,” Barry snapped, hunching over the booth table. “I didn’t realize you were coping with our engagement.”

“I’m not-” Len said again. “We’re not engaged!”

“They are.” Barry pointed to a scratchy tv in the corner, playing the kiss over and over.

Len made a noise and turned away from it, taking a long drink.

“What are you saying?” he asked, setting his drained glass down. “You’re mad that I’m not ecstatic over witnessing that spectacle?”

“I’m not mad.” The grim set to Barry’s mouth said otherwise. “And it was only a spectacle because you made it a spectacle.”

Len considered his next words carefully. Finally, he said, “What can I say; I like a little theatrics.”

This seemed to break through the tension; Barry laughed soft. “No kidding.”

Len stole Barry’s beer and took a swig. “You seemed happy with it though.”

Barry looked at him questioningly.

“The theatrics,” Len clarified.

“I guess I’ve got a soft spot for your shenanigans,” Barry smiled down at the table.

It felt odd to be hearing this, in a dimly lit bar, with one drink in Len’s system and another on it’s way but still only feeling the adrenaline rocketing through him from watching his future self propose to the man in front of him.

“I’d hardly call my heists shenanigans ,” he protested, taking another drink.

“Sure,” Barry allowed, but Len felt more like Barry was humoring him than agreeing.

It was quiet for a moment.

“So you’re not...” Len resisted the urge to peel at the bottle label. “Horrified at today’s events?”

“Horrified?” Barry tapped on the table with rapid movements. “No, horrified isn’t the right word.”

Len leaned in a little. “What is?”

Barry flashed him a sly smile. “Fishing, Lenny?”

Len’s answer was halfway between a laugh and a growl. “You know only people I’ve dated can call me that. I told you after my dad shot you for it.”

“Huh,” Barry said mockingly, squinting at the tv again.

Len rolled his eyes. “Point taken.”

Barry grinned at him. “I guess I have the right to call you Lenny now.”

“I think you’re supposed to wait until at least after the first date,” Len replied.

Barry gestured to the table between them.

“You wanna call this our first date?” Len asked incredulously.

“It’d be kinda weird if our first date was sometime after we get engaged,” Barry deadpanned.

Len let out a laugh, surprising himself. Barry preened, pleased at the reaction.

“Fine,” Len allowed. “This can be our first date.”

“Not going too bad,” Barry said, reclining a little and grinning at Len.

“Shockingly,” Len agreed, letting himself smile a little. “Nobody’s gotten iced.”

“So far,” Barry’s grin widened, his foot bumping Len’s. “But that’s really more of a third date kind of thing.”

Len choked on his beer.

Before he could say anything, his watch set off with a rapid beeping, the tiny red light flashing.

“What’s that?” Barry asked, leaning in to inspect.

“Waverider detector,” Len jumped up. “They’re here. Let’s go.”

They ran out the door, Barry throwing a few bills down for the drinks.

Above them, the Waverider flickered for a moment before it’s camouflage went back on, landing on a roof.

“Hang on,” Barry warned Len before snatching him up, running up the side of the building to skid to a stop before the Waverider’s lowering deck.

“Some more warning next time please,” Len grit his teeth, righting himself.

“Sure Lenny.”

Len ignored that in favor of walking aboard with Barry, into the flight deck where the Legends waiting.

With Other-Barry and Other-Len.

“Oh my God,” Len muttered under his breath as they came to a jerky halt.

“Hi,” Sara said, smile ungodly cheerful, like her entire fucking day, no, year had just been made. “So, funny story-”

“Bet it’s not,” Len muttered under his breath.

“But we accidentally-” Sara continued a little more forcefully, like she’d heard him.

“Picked up the wrong us’s,” Barry finished for her.

“Picked up the wrong you’s!” Sara agreed, not put out that he had interrupted, somehow more delighted.

Other-Barry waved awkwardly while Other-Len stood stoically behind him, eyeing them with apprehension.

Len huffed an annoyed breath. “Congratulations.”

Other-Barry beamed and leaned into his fiance , while Other-Len seemed to fight back a smile and moved closer as well.

“So you do know!” Sara crowed. “Isn’t it wonderful?”

“Spectacular,” Len agreed. “Are you going to put them back anytime soon or what?”

“You don’t wanna chat with them?” Sara asked, practically pouting, delight still shimmering in her eyes.

“Not with all of you here,” Barry said with as much of a scowl as he was capable of giving a friend.

“Although I’m sure you all got to spend lots of time with them already,” Len added. “Poking and prodding at all aspects of life they could tell you about.”

Only Ray had the decency to look ashamed, which frankly confirmed Len’s theory.

“We didn’t tell them anything,” Other-Barry assured them.

Len gave a pointed look to the gold band now adorning Other-Barry’s ring finger. “Right.”

Other-Barry blushed and smiled down at the ring fondly.

“Oh my God,” Barry muttered behind Len. “It’s too sappy, put them back please.”

Sara sighed longsufferingly. “Fine. Alright boys, pack it up, let’s get you back to your own time.”

“It’s for the best,” Other-Len said. “I’m sure everyone’s wondering why we’re not showing up to our own engagement party.”

“They’ll assume we took a...” Other-Barry caught his past self’s glare and paused. “Detour.”

“I wish we could attend the party,” Sara said, bordering on an uncharacteristic whine.

“You are,” Barry said slyly, eliciting a pleased gasp from her as she guided them away.

It was quiet between the others as Sara took the future versions to the exit.

“They seemed happy,” Ray said, cringing at the warning look he was given by everyone after.

Without another word, Len turned on his heel, snatching the front of Barry’s shirt as he went and dragging him behind him, Barry’s feet stumbling and kicking into the backs of his own.

When they reached Len’s room, he hit the button for the door to shut and shoved Barry up against it.

Cutting Barry off after his gasp before he could do more, Len pressed his lips to Barry’s messily, hands sliding quickly down to Barry’s waist.

Instead of the protest Barry had been about to give, he simply made a pleased noise and pushed back into the kiss.

When they parted, Len brought a hand up to grasp Barry’s where it rested on his shoulder, and ran a finger over where a ring would be one day.

“So we’ve had our first date and gotten engaged,” Len said. “What’s next?”

Apparently, what was next was more kissing.