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Time, Fondly

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“Greeting, Earthling”

 

….

 

Earthling!?”

 

“Oh, well, that was worth a shot. Anyway. Good. You are conscious! How do you feel? Still hurt anywhere? Any missing limbs? Internal organs?”

 

“…My sanity?”

 

“Pfff. Perish the thought. You are the sanest human I have come in touch with considering recent events, which I must thank you for. Are you comfortable?”

 

“Am I alive?”

 

“Yes. Sure.”

 

“That doesn’t sound reassuring.”

 

“Well. Technically, you are. Here. Now. Always.”

 

“Oh. Oh, god.”

 

“No. No god.”

 

“You are—“

 

“I am.”

 

He looks around his own floating body where the swirl of green and black and blue, so familiar after all the travelling in the Stream, seems to move with purpose, undulating slowly as if it is one. An organism. A sentient, intelligent life. A celestial being.

 

“Fuck” He exclaims, with feeling.

 

“That would be rather difficult. But we can try?” Chirps a reply from somewhere beyond his brain’s capacity to discern. He huffs, amused despite the situation.

 

“Nice to meet you, Time” He charms, drawling thick and sweet.

 

“The pleasure is mine, Leonard Snart” Time croons.

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

Len takes stock of himself once he found that yes, one could stand upright in this infinity that is Time Stream, or whatever it actually is. He just hopes that it’s not inside Time, like in her belly or something, because yes, Time is a lady. Good-humoured and, well, a little weird. But at least she has somehow saved his life from the fate of the blown to smithereens. Finding that he is overall healthy and unsinged—and keenly missing his Cold gun—Len proceeds to replay in his mind the events leading up to him standing here in no man’s land, conversing with a concept who seems—sounds—eager and energetic like a middle-aged cat lady next door. With cookies.

 

“You saved my life” Len states, intrigued. “Why would you? My use was up. All strings cut with that explosion. I should have died”

 

“You freed me, Leonard Snart. Had you not sacrificed yourself, I would still be trapped in that abominable contraption those fools so innocuously called Oculus and abused as slave to their arrogance” Time answers, vicious and grateful. Like a woman bitching about her abusive ex to her girlfriends. It is a little disconcerting, that ‘her’ voice sounds so normal and natural as if she were standing right in the same space with him, human and alive, so different from the disembodied voice of Gideon and, heaven forbid, whatever Len had imagined a consciousness of god-like being should sound like.

 

 “It could have been anyone of my crew, you do realize” Len counters, needing to remind her that he is no hero, and saving her was not at all his intention “I wanted to free myself.”

 

“And by doing so, you ended the loop of their machinations. Had your friend been the one to stay and died, I would still be trapped. Leonard Snart, your unpredictable sacrifice was the very factor that allowed the change to take effect.” She pauses, before continuing almost sheepishly “And I like you”

Len has never thought he would one day be in this situation. Awkward silence. With Time.

 

“Like me?”

 

“Well, your friends are rather boring, don’t you think? They are very much predictable. And oh so ‘honorable’ they trip over themselves and flail about. At least you are practical.”

 

“Are you saying, had it been Ray, you wouldn’t have saved him” Len asks dubiously, a little stunned.

 

That was the very event those drat Timemasters expected, as it was the one I had shown them that they could prepare for”

 

“What if I’d let Mick—?”

 

“Well, he was one of them. For very long. So very long, Leonard Snart. I wouldn’t consider aiding him in anything

 

“Right” Bitter resentment like that, Len understands. The Timemasters had trapped her with that machine for unfathomable length of time. Despite her stream still moving, flowing with timelines and lives within, her will—her self—was chained and used like a machine, a puppet on strings. Of course Len, of all people, would understand. “So now what”

 

The atmosphere seems to blink at him, and pause. “You are fine with that”

 

“Of course. Your feelings are your prerogative, I have no right to impose my feelings upon yours. No one has” He smirks. “Besides, you are the god here, I’m not stupid enough to tell you what’s right or wrong”

 

“Oooh. This is why I like you Leonard Snart. It has been so long since I have had such companion.” Time coos rather gleefully. “Stay with me in the streams, we can bitch at the stupidity of human together”

 

That, finally, gives Len pause. Now, Len had made peace with his death. He knew his time was up when he cut the strings with his last act of selfishness at the Vanishing Point, but could he stay here, watching lives flow by, with only a voice for company?

 

May be this is purgatory. He would pay for the bad and the good he had done in his miserable life after all.

 

Or maybe it will be fine. Safe. Peace at last. Staying here with someone who actually seems to like him.

Len looks up when he hears noises. There, on the somewhat ground, are scenes of events flowing by like a river of films. The longer he looks the more the things multiply. Streams of them kick up and expand, flowing around him in panorama, all of them scenes of lives being lived, of people he know and don’t, same and not, all continuing with myriads of difference in each stream, unending. He reaches out, shaking finger not quite touching a stream he is sure was where he used to be, his timeline. No. His universe.

 

“They are all alternate universes” Len utters, awed.

 

“Superstars! I know you are smart Leonard Snart” Time squealed happily, “that one you are touching is indeed that which you came from. About the event after you depart to partake in the quest to save me”, she titters like a school girl.

 

“I can see everything”

 

“Of course. You are outside of the timelines. With me. We can see all of them at once, just a shame I cannot tamper with them much. Rules and all that.”

 

“You have rules?” Startled, Len asks, curiosity getting the better of him like so many time before he learned not to give in.

 

“You will learn that there is not only Time that are the forces of the universes, Leonard Snart. Why, there is Life, lovely guy, he is the force in all living being inside the universes. He’s like a dad, you’ll like him.” If Time has a body, she would be shrugging, Len is sure. “Then there’s mom, Nature. She give Life shapes, the force that keep essences together and form a body, like human, or rocks, or if you know human chemistry; atoms” She continues airily, as if revealing the secrets of the universes to Len was nothing to worry about. “Then there’s Speed”

 

Oh. That last one was definitely a sneer.

 

“A wretch, that one, fancy himself some kind of all-knowing or something. He adds movement to Life and Nature. And then plays with them. As if I can’t just stop it all. Do you know that if stopped long enough, the force within goes back to their givers, and then cease to exist? Speedforce is such a moron, gallivanting about playing god, when I’m stuck in a tiny machine playing mirror on the wall, instead of sending one of his annoying ‘blessed’ underlings to help free me.” She rants, seeming to forget an increasingly overwhelmed Len standing rooted to the spot at the revelation. That this quirky, good-humored and somewhat childish being hold so much power over everything Len has ever known, and that there is at least another one even more unpredictable.

 

“You saying that there is one of you playing with human life?” Len belatedly realizes, and horror dawns upon him after hearing his own words “Speedforce gives power to speedsters? That’s where the Flash’s speed comes from?”

 

“Well, yes, what is it t—oh. Right. Your universe has one of them too. The Flash, is it?”

The streams around him twist and turn, and suddenly the one in front of him expands and slows, giving him full view of The Flash. Well, two Flashes watching another armored speedster stabbing Iris West in the chest. He inhales sharply, alarmed at the scene unfolding before him.

 

“What is that idiot doing?!” Len growls incredulously, aligning what he knows from the last time he went on a robbery trip with the Flash with what he sees. “Don’t tell me they’re—”

 

“Oh yes, they are. I told you. Speed is a sick, sick, bastard” Time cuts in, not quite sympathetic with his burgeoning headache.

 

Dismissing the film rolls showing red-clad speedsters screaming in tears and futility and, in Len’s not so humble opinion, Team Flash’s stupidity, Len turns away as if to address Lady Time straight on. Folding his arms in a pose he has used so many times before in his criminal dealings, he steels himself to what might be the most high-profile negotiation in his, admittedly already ended, life.

 

“I cannot stay here” He opens, eyes narrow partly in apprehension and anticipation when the stream seems to squirm as if upset. “But I would like to offer you a deal”

 

“But I want you here” She, honest-to-goodness, whines. “I am lonely, and you are fun”

 

“You can reach me anywhere, the Vanishing Point is gone”

 

“Well, yes, and you have my eternal gratitude, but I still want your company. I put you back together just for that”

 

“No. You put me back in one piece because you feel guilty for manipulating me into the situation where I must free you to free myself” and everyone else, Len doesn’t say, but he is sure Time could hear.

The pause that follow feels unmistakably like a pout. Len feels another headache coming.

 

“I have loose ends back where I came from.” He begins again, voice low and slow, not a hint of his usual drawl. “And you have revenge to exact from a certain power-abusing entity”

 

“What could you do?” Time asks skeptically.

 

“No, what could you do. The way I see it, Speed plays humans with his powers, and the speedsters keep bumbling about messing with time. And he didn’t even send them to help you when you were trapped by the Oculus. You must do something, or things will keep happening the way they did and where would you be when someone made another time-trap?”

 

“Um.”

 

“Yes. You may have another millennia to spend minutely manipulating the new master until another group of misfits wander by and free you with an explosion again, but do you want to? Admit it, humans intervening with your streams make you vulnerable”

 

“Then what do you suggest I do, Leonard” She asks. Half wary, half amused. Len distinctly feels like being indulged, but he’ll take it.

 

“You make your own agents, like Speed makes speedsters. And have your agents deal with them before another Timemaster wannabe get another bright idea to exploit you” He suggests, shrugging a shoulder casually and letting his arms fall back down by his side. Stance open. “I can be your experimental model”

 

“You will kill those speedsters for me?” The gleaming quality in the surrounding stream accompanying that question reminds Len acutely that he is dealing with something decidedly not human here, and he reigns himself in.

 

“Not quite, you just said you are not a god, lady. Don’t go about ending lives unless it’s you or them. It will come back to bite you in your very fine behind. See what’s about to happen with Speed and his runners?”

 

Chuckling, the sound tingling like a bell and a church carillon at once, Time sounds entertained. “And what will you gain from this endeavor, my dear agent”

 

“I have loose ends to take care of. Lives to safe and destroy, the usual” Len answered nonchalantly, already looking bored.

 

“You just want to go back and keep them safe” She counters, not saying who ‘they’ are, but they both know it. She has been inside his head, after all. He’s part of her now, being pieced back together by Time itself doesn’t mean you get to be only yourself again.

 

“Do we have a deal?”

 

“You go back, and you will be mortal much the same as others Life and Nature have created, you do realize?”

 

“I don’t need immortality”

 

“But you do need something, if you were to keep those dreadful agents of speed in control. I won’t have Speed take you away from me just because I am sparing with my blessings. He plays with them, Leonard, giving them outrageous powers and even more ridiculous conditions, especially with the ones he seems partial to. Even Life has felt the need to send collecting agents after some of those gifted the power of speed should they cause too much disturbance in the realms.” At this mention, a flock of what look like vengeful ghost flow past him at speed, he was too shocked to flinch. “And he blames me, calling them Time Wraith. Seriously, I want to teach Speed a lesson, not sending another pawn onto his chessboard”

 

“You want me to come back here. After” Len surmises after weighted silent, simultaneously grateful that he is dealing with a much more humane entity than what the Flash must have, and dreading the similarity of the situation to that of him selling his soul to a demon.

 

“I do. Here it is Leonard Snart. You will be my man in the Timelines, countering the forces Speed bears and keep the gifted humans from weakening me for as long as you and I agree. I will grant you your existence in the realm from which you came. When your time is up, no more loose ends for you, you will come back to stay. I will allow you company, should they prove interesting too. Do we have a deal?”

 

The voice speaking to him this time is not at all like the happy lady she had been just moments before. Len is smart enough to understand that, while she might like him for whatever reasons that allude him, she is still a force so powerful and all-seeing that he has no hope to trick or play to his hands. So he just nods, hoping he was not placing his trust in the hand of another puppeteer.

 

The streams twist and folds, giving distinct impression of a toothy smile, and just like that the Time Lady is back again. “Now to some final briefings and minor adjustments for your re-entrance” She sing-songs mischievously.

 

Len swears she winked at him, but then he is scattered again.

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

A hell of a day. It was a hell of a day, Barry decides. He has gone into the Speedforce to rescue Wally, only to find the Speedforce anthropomorphed as his dead friends and guilty consciences over and over. Eddie, Ronnie …and Snart. Having to fight them even knowing it was not actually them, listening to the things they had to say, hurt more than he expected. So much more that at the time, it seemed the only thing to do was take Wally’s place and stay a prisoner. If not for Jay coming to his rescue, Barry didn’t even know how he would have sent Wally back out.

 

And now this. Receding his marriage proposal to Iris and asking for space. Then promptly felt guilty about making her leave their home despite him offering to go and stay with Cisco. Barry knew that asking Iris to marry him as an easy way to avoid the gruesome future was not right, but he had been trying to follow the timeline. Ever since Flashpoint, it seemed the thing to do was make sure things happen according to the future Reverse Flash kept spouting about, only to realize that he was wrong again. He’s learned that much from his last stint in the Speedforce, where someone else saved the day and he screwed everything up. Again.

 

Sighing, heart and body bone-deep weary, Barry pushes both hands through his hair, wincing at his own incapability to save the day when it matters the most. Nothing goes my way anymore, he thinks, slumping back where he sat only to be startled by the last voice he expects to ever hear again.

 

“I admit, I didn’t see that coming” A familiar drawl sounds from one of the only dark corners in his home. On instinct, Barry speeds up and rushes the intruder, pushing him up against the nearest surface—the dining table—by the collar. By the time he stops and comes back to himself, the sight of the man in his grasp takes his breath away.

 

“Snart!? What? How?” Barry exhales sharply, perplexed. His grip relaxing minutely once he sees whose collar he is crushing, but still pinning their bodies to the table. The thief—or ex-thief—only raises one shapely eyebrow in response.

 

“Chill, Scarlet. I didn’t come here to execute my nefarious plan for your demise, if that’s what you’re worried about.” His sarcasm is accompanied by a slender finger prodding one of the hands near his neck. Barry loosens his grip only to transfer his hands onto Snart’s arm and shoulder instead, holding on tightly.

 

“But. But. You’re dead. Ray said—.” He gulps, cutting off when something else comes to mind. “You don’t know that you’re dead?” Barry askes sheepishly, since he figures that maybe he shouldn’t have said anything about Snart’s imminent demise as it might change the timeline again.

 

“I assure you that I am very much not dead, Scarlet, though not for the lack of trying. Not unlike you” Snart hints, “always try to go the martyr road right off the bat, you heroes”

 

Just like that, a proverbial light pops on in Barry’s head, “you were in the Speedforce” he theorizes. “But how?”

 

“You’ll need to be more specific than that, Red. How did I get in? I was sent there. How did I get out? The same way you did, only with less sparks”

 

“How are you not dead?” Barry interrupts, hands unconsciously clenching on Snart’s flesh. The man smirks.

 

“Let’s say I saved a damsel in distress and she loves me” He snarks, then winces a little when the hands on his arm and shoulder tighten to the point of painful. “You mind?” Snart looks at the hand on his upper arm significantly, cuing to be let go, but the myriad of confusion and lost and hope relaying across Barry’s features and the hands fluttering about at almost-speed have him sigh resignedly. Deciding to take pity on the poor speedster, Snart takes one of Barry’s hands to place above his heart.

 

“Hear that? Heart’s beating, lung’s breathing, body’s functioning. I am very much alive, Scarlet.” He assures softly.

 

Flushing in embarrassment, Barry reins himself in with a deep breath, silently counting the steady rhythm under his hand, just to be sure. “Then what are you doing here, Snart? Why are you not with the Legends or, I don’t know, with Lisa?” He doesn’t miss the tiny flinch in reaction to the name, and Barry surmises, correctly, that Snart has come straight here to his apartment without telling anyone after his resurrection. Again, how?

 

“I am back to this time for a reason, Barry. And that is to provide you with control”

 

“Control me?” Barry bristles.

 

“Oh, yes. My villainous plot to control the almighty hero and rule the world as we know it” Snart drawls. “Chill, Scarlet. Heroically blowing myself up to kill intergalactic megalomaniac Time Bastards notwithstanding, my designs have never been world domination. So keep a lid on the heat, alright?” Tugging at the hand on his chest, he attempts to move away from the table digging into his lower back “Now if you would unhand my person, I would like to give you a more thorough explanation of my presence. Over some hot cocoa, maybe. Do you remember to stock up on mini marshmallow?

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

Snart is alive. Barry thinks dazedly while stirring cocoa in the pot he’s heating on the stove. Because his very not-dead house guest insisted they are not going to drink pre-packaged cocoa ‘like a heathen’. Leonard Snart is alive and lounging on my windowseat RIGHT WHERE I BROKE UP WITH IRIS not an hour ago and he’s offering what? Aid? Allegiance?

 

Glancing at the man again, Barry pours two cups of cocoa and proceeds to add copious amount of mini marshmallow on autopilot, his mind kept playing out just how did one get out alive from an explosion even a crew of time-travelers could barely escape. Provided what Ray said was true, which it most likely was. Setting the two cups down on the table, grabbing also coasters when a sharp eyebrow arches elegantly in chastisement, Barry decides to put aside his fluster and interrogate.

 

“Here’s your drink, now can you explain everything from the start, Snart?”

 

Sipping away happily at the marshmallow-laden beverage, the man eyes him as if amused. “It’s a very short story, Allen. There’s a bad group of people trapping Time’s power and exploiting her using a fancy machine. I held the failsafe to make sure said machine exploded nicely right in the middle of said group’s lair. Machine exploded, Time was released. We made friends. I offered her a deal. I’m back where I belong. For now.”

 

“Oh that’s not at all convoluted” Barry snarks when it seems Snart was finished with his tale. Then it occurrs to him, “what do you mean by ‘for now’?”

 

“It turns out she wants me to stay with her for eternity. I offered her my afterlife” he answers casually, as if that is no bigger commitment than agreeing to an evening out with a friend. Or a fellow criminal. Ex-criminal. Barry gulps, throat suddenly quite dry at the insinuation that a powerful entity was likely waiting for Snart to die so she(?) can have his soul. He’s not quite ready to find the man dead again after last time Ray causally mentioned it before the fight with the Dominators. In fact, Barry’s quite sure he will not be ready for that again, ever.

 

“Why are you telling me all this” It has to be said, the accusation, as Snart was not known for being forthcoming with any information pertaining his own life and motivations. And this sounds much bigger than even those. This is Snart’s purpose for being alive.

 

“Because, Barry, aside for the unfashionably-yellow Reverse-Flash, you are one of the people who keep effecting and altering Time. I’d say she is quite fed up with that.”

 

“You saying you’re here on behalf of Time it—herself? What about the Speedforce?” Barry’s incredulous tone causes Snart to finally put the mug down. That or maybe because the marshmallows are all gone now.

 

“What do you think, seeing how they reacted to you today?” The older man asks back pointedly, making Barry splutter.

 

“Wait, what? You were there? I thought you said—you came out the same way I did. You came out with me and Wally through Cisco’s vibe? But. How were you not seen? There was no place to hide!” Barry almost screechs by the end, but abruptly ceases his babble before it even start once he sees the serious expression Snart rarely showed in his presence.

 

“Now. This is very important, and anything I say from this point on must remain confidential between us. Barry, you must not tell anyone else, especially your team.” Snart demands in a low tone, dropping his drawl and sounding ominous.

 

“I’m not gonna lie to them” Barry counters on reflect, but Snart is firm in his stance, despite not actually moving from his cozied-up posture completed with a cup of half-empty lukewarm cocoa in front of him.

 

“No, but some secrets are greater than the need of individuals. If you cannot keep it, I will leave right now and this meeting will never happen. So, which do you want?”

 

The wording niggles on Barry’s mind, and he wonders for a second what Snart is capable of now, if he is truly sent by Time. Taking only seconds to weight his options, Barry steels himself to the inevitable. “I. Ok, ok. I promise not to tell.”

 

“Good. Don’t look so surprised, I know you are a man of your word.” Snart responds to Barry’s surprise when he just takes him at his words like that. “I work for Time, and in turn, she returns the favor. Scarlet, I am not only a man out of Time, I am in touch with her. Like partners. Watch” Snart wriggles his fingers to pull his attention, then tips over his cup. The remaining cocoa starting to pour from the rim of the container and about to spill onto the table. Slow-motion in Barry’s sped-up vision before he realizes what he is doing and forces himself back in normal speed. Only, the cup keeps pausing almost horizontal, balancing precariously, the liquid refusing to come out a millimeter more. Then, as if someone pressed ‘rewind’ button on it, the cup rights itself, with its spilling content flowing back in obediently to their original positions.

 

“Holy shi—”

 

“Language, Scarlet”

 

“Damn”

 

“Cool, isn’t it” Snart chuckles, and Barry swears his eyes sparkle a little. “But this does not happen at my will. Only when Time sees it necessary and allow it, chooses to do it for me.”

 

“You froze time when you arrived at STAR Lab” Barry realizes.

 

“And that is the point of our intended business, Team Flash’s sourly lack of a strategist”

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

Snart, who has insisted to be called Len halfway into the night, spends the rest of their conversation coming up with a plausible cover story to tell their friends—the rest of the world, really—about how Len ‘didn’t really die’.

 

“I really did blow up and die, Barry” Len protested half-heartedly when he heard Barry said it.

 

“Irrelevant” Barry countered “you’re here now, we thought you died before. So you came back to life”

 

“Yes, Scarlet, whatever you say”

 

After overcoming his indignation about the accusation of his team’s lack of strategy and planning, which admittedly they kind of did, and Len giving in to Barry not-so-hidden need to touch him again to make sure he was solid and real by gesturing the younger man to come sit beside him, Barry conceded to Len’s point on his team’s evaluation. They did rely more on technology and Barry’s power than a thoroughly thought out plan. Mostly thinking on the fly, really, since time was always the essence when dealing with violent metahumans.

 

Their official story for Len’s survival is easy, they will let Cisco come up with any theory and play ignorant, going along and deferring to him as the expert, making sure no one cotton on to the existence of another sentient power such as Time.

 

“The best lies, Scarlet, are the ones people tell themselves” Len had said with an uncharacteristic despondent expression.

 

The harder part, though, would be how to convince them to let Len in as part of the team, which Len accepted need to happen since he would have to make sure they wouldn’t stumble into another Flashpoint or Singularity situation.

 

By the time they feel ready to end their planning session, Barry was also ready to hit the sack and clonk out for a few hours before he had to wake up for his day job. He was handing a set of pajamas to Len when he remembered one little fault in his plan.

 

“Um” He freezes awkwardly, eyes darting around the big loft.

 

“Yes, Scarlet?” Len asks, taking the offered clothing and sets them aside on the table. Brow quirking up at the frantic searching.

 

“I didn’t ask if you wanted to stay?”

 

“Do you see me complaining?” Len is leaning against the table now, his hip resting where he was pinned to hours before. “I will take one of the sofas, you have plenty” He comments.

 

“You can take the bed” Barry offers anyway, and cheekily adds “I’m not sure you will be comfortable on a sofa at your age” Len snorts, startled at the sudden turn from awkward to playful but rolls with it anyway.

 

“Well, if you insist” He drawls, picking up the cloths and heads toward the bathroom without having to be guided “but you’re always welcomed to join me. I see your bed is big enough for two”

Barry’s embarrassed squawk only makes him sashayed his hips that much more on his way.

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Cisco is working away diligently at his work station when suddenly a sense of foreboding comes over him and startled him out of his productive zone. Glancing around, he sees nothing out of ordinary. Caitlin and Julian is talking softly in medical room, check. HR is sure to be somewhere being…himself, check. So that’s left Barry, who is nowhere to be found.

 

“Hey Julian, didn’t Barry’s shift end the same time as yours today?” He shouts over to the whispering couple, earning himself a disapproving frown from the British man.

 

“I believe he had business to attend to, and will come on his own time, Cisco” He answered politely with only hint of exasperation. An improvement, really. “Yeah but I have a feeling, and he’s the only one who’s not he—Oh hey, Barry!” Cisco cut himself off as Barry speeds into the room, his usual displays of lightning sparking about, making everyone blinks and turns in his direction. “Where have you be—oH. My. God. What did you do!?” His cheerful greeting turns abruptly to a near screech, causing Caitlin and Julian to run into the room.

 

There, casually standing shoulder to shoulder with his friend, is Captain Cold. The allegedly heroically dead member of team Legends Captain Cold a.k.a Leonard Snart. Who is now smirking at the shocked audience and leaning closer to Barry the wider Cisco’s eyes go. Cold whispers something in Barry’s ear, mouth almost touching earlobe, and Cisco thinks he might implodes what with the fight-or-flight reaction keeping him still and shaking at the same time. Then Barry turns. Toward Cold. And huffs out a laugh.

 

“BARRY ALLEN WHY IS COLD HERE WHAT DID YOU DO!!??” Someone screams. Oh, that might have been him. The double shocks of seeing Cold—who should be dead and gone, gone—and Barry getting all cozy standing right in the middle of STAR Lab wears off as suddenly as they came. Replaced by a concern that Barry might have messed with the timeline, again.

 

“Please tell me you didn’t run to get him from the past” Cisco demands.

 

“I didn’t run to get him from the past” Barry deadpans, face bright with humor. Great, he’s being humored now. That doesn’t really come close to being reassuring.

 

“The Legends is in town?” he asks hopefully, maybe there’s another time anachronism somewhere.

 

“Um, No? I’m pretty sure they aren’t”

 

“Please, please don’t tell me you found a way to bring back the dead and you chose to resurrect Cold?” He pleads, which earns him a laugh from Barry and an amused snort from Cold. From the corner of his eyes, he’s pretty sure Cait is facepalming while Julian seems to be in some kind of trance.

 

Barry finally takes pity on him, “I kind of found him? Yeah, and let him stay at my place last night?” Barry divulges, which, yeah, not helping.

 

“Let me conclude it for you. You found Cold, who was supposed to have died in an explosion somewhere outside of time, heroically I might add, to save all Timelines and Universes from evil Time Masters and their manipulation. Then bring him home for the night like a stray cat?” Cisco summarizes incredulously, his voice climbing higher again at the end.

 

“Meow” Cold unhelpfully adds, Cisco glares at him. Who smirks back. “Nice to see you to, Cisco. Doc Snow. And you are?” The ex-criminal turns towards Team Flash’s newest member who seems to shake uncontrollably before offering the man a wide, happy smile.

 

“Julian Albert. But please, call me Julian. It is such an honor to finally meet you!” The usually contained CSI moves forward so fast Cisco thought he’s got the Speed, already reaching to shake hand with Cold before anyone could recover from the drastic change in his demeanor. “I have followed your works until your disappearance last year. I never expected to see you again in a place like this”

 

Cold takes the offered hand briefly, after Barry subtly elbowed him in the side, drawling, “always pleased to meet a fan”.

 

Damn, trust Julian Albert, metahuman forensic expert extraordinaire, to fanboy over a supervillain without special powers.

 

“Julian, you remember you’re a CSI and he’s a criminal, right?” Caitlin protested disapprovingly from the other side of the main console. Smart girl.

 

“Well, yes, Caitlin. But he is also a very successful thief who never leave a trace after his heists once, especially after his upgrade to global platform and before he came back to Central City in 2014. Why, in fact, his records on any upgraded database is gone as well as paper ones in CCPD. Only his Cold persona remains, which I hope you are not going to resume?” The question was directed at Cold, who managed to extract back his hand and stepped a little ways behind Barry a few seconds into the tirade. Barry, though, is standing still, trying and almost succeeding in holding his reaction to Julian fanboying over his old nemesis. Almost being keyword, as it was obvious how entertained he is from his face-splitting grin.

 

“And who do you think erased those records” Cisco grumbles under his breath, but decided not to incite further ire from the giddy and already protective Julian admirer-of-Cold. He strains his ears, though, for Cold’s answer.

 

“Seeing that I seem to have misplaced my superweapon of choice, maybe not anytime soon” was the answer, but the significant glance he sends Cisco’s way is not at all reassuring. He needs to break this up before Cold turns Julian completely over to his evil side and makes the man demand Cisco making another Cold Gun. Which is not lost, by the way. He hopes. Damn Heatwave keeping his gun. Whatever.

 

“What do you mean you found him, Barry?” Cisco asks his friend, the only one who is willing and capable of explaining this Cold-apparition.

 

Barry scratches at his neck, looking a little baffled himself “Well, he just…appeared. Last night, you know, after—. I was surprised, you see. But it’s Snart. So I kind of let him stayed at my place last night? He doesn’t have anywhere to go. So.”

 

“Wait, wait. Are you saying that after we breached open the Speedforce when you and Jay rescue Wally, you went running and poof! Cold is there, so you took him home? Barry, what were you thinking! What if this is a doppelganger from another Earth? What if he’s an evil Cold?” Ok, that last one sounds better in his head, but still.

 

“It’s really him, Cisco. He’s our Snart, just not dead. He somehow survived the explosion the Legends talked about, and was crashed back here in his original timeline. I, we’re not too sure what happened, really.”

 

“What’s the last thing you remember” Cisco turns on Cold, his scientist brain kicking into gear, even Caitlin looks fascinated now (Julian, though, Cisco notes, is eagerly hanging on Cold’s every word and gestures. Like a puppy)

 

“Are you asking me to describe the moment of my death, Cisco? And here I thought you’re a gentleman, at least buy me a drink first” Cold teases, but Cisco is not raising to the bait. He will NOT.

 

“Just answer the question, Cold” Cisco growl, or tries to. The ex-thief just smirks wider.

 

“I was holding down the fail-safe mechanism, overloading the Oculus when the Time Bastards surrounded me, demanding I surrender. They wasted precious time giving their villain monologue, the machine went boom. It hurt a lot, then not at all, and then…” Cold trails off, glancing at Barry, who awkwardly squeezes his shoulder in reassurance. The far shoulder. As in arm around shoulder. Wait, has Barry had his hand on Cold all this time? Not important. Later.

 

Cisco can appreciate a man who recognize the downside of a villain monologue.

“It hurt when you exploded?” He pressed.

 

“On a scale of things, it was worse than freezing yourself with a Cold Gun. There was a lot of being thrown about, and I lost consciousness pretty fast after that. So I would assume it might hurt as much as when one is disintegrated.” Cold extrapolates the moment of his death like it was nothing out of ordinary, ignoring the pale faces across the room. Barry is moving his hand at Cold’s back in a circle, as if trying to sooth the man. It boggles Cisco’s mind a little.

 

“And you came to be only today”

 

“Yesterday. Keep up, Cisco. I was staying with Barry last night. He found me yesterday.”

 

“But the only anomaly yesterday was. Oh hell. Don’t tell me you were in the Speedforce!? And you were spit out because we, I vibed Barry and Wally out? What if there’s n—“

 

“WHAT THE HELL. SNART!?” Cisco’s second—or is it third?—freak out is interrupted by Joe yelling loudly from the main lab entrance, pulling out his service weapon and pointing it at Cold’s head. Cisco only has a second to comprehend what was about to happen because the next time he blinks, Barry has already taken the gun off Joe’s hand and deposited himself between him and Cold, keeping one arm around Cold (who seems to be trying to inch out of it to no avail) another extended toward Joe, as if to keep the man away.

 

“Relax, Joe. He’s good. We’re good.” Barry tries, and of course, it doesn’t work.

 

“What is the meaning of this, Baer? You said he was dead!” Joe exclaimed, still loudly. Cisco and Caitlin wince at the volume, while Julian took a protective step in Barry and Cold’ direction.

 

“Yes, well. Turns out he isn’t dead? We are trying to figure out the how of it. Joe, really. He’s one of us now. Right, Len?” Barry addresses them with hope. Then he turns Cisco’s way, calling for help.

 

Cisco sighs. One does not say no to those puppy eyes. Especially if it's your BFF's puppy eyes. “Yeah, Joe. Don’t you remember? Cold sacrificed himself to save mankind from evil Time lords.”

 

“Then why is he here” Joe demands, though his stance has loosened somewhat from attack pose. His arms now folded at his chest. Ooh, Stern Dad Pose No.1

 

“I kind of found him last night, so I brought him here to figure out what happened to him and how it affects his body” Barry hurriedly explains, which, not good. Now they are committed to help the man.

Again. Cisco just hopes this time there’s no bomb in anyone’s head.

 

“You what?”

 

“It might have been our fault he’s here now since I vibed Barry in and out of the Speedforce yesterday. That’s still a hypothesis, though. We don’t have enough data to even begin to guess at what might have transported Cold there in the first place and how come he’s not even a little bit burnt.” Cisco rescued Barry again, taking pity on his friend. Joe could be a dick about things sometimes.

 

“How do you know he’s not tricking you? What if there’s a plan to make you—” Joe’s cynic imagination is cut off by Barry laughing uproariously. He’s laughing so hard he has to hang on to Cold’s shoulder just to stand up straight. Cold looks chagrined.

 

“That. That’s. Sorry, Joe. That’s what he said to me when I grabbed him last night. ‘My villainous plan to control the mighty hero and rule the world’. Yeah, no, Joe. Don’t you see? This is it. This is what we have been looking for. Our trump card, or more like wild card.” Barry stops laughing then, growing quietly serious “He doesn’t exist in the future I saw, Joe. He was not there in May 23”

 

Finally, it dawns on Joe. And Cisco chastises himself for not thinking about this before. May 23, the day Savitar kills Iris, Cold was not there. In all the times Barry and Cisco traveled to see it, there was no indicator of Cold being anywhere near Central. Or even in this timeline.

 

They can change the future.

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

It has been days since Barry has sort-of broken up with her, or that’s what she chose to think he meant, anyway, when he was talking about ‘proposing for the wrong reason’ and ‘needing space’. She has given him the space he asked for, keeping her distance and avoiding STAR lab and the precinct altogether. Funny how little their paths cross when they are not living together or she’s not showing up at the places Barry work. They didn’t even run into each other at Jitters, and she hadn’t really stopped going there for her coffee sometimes. Thus, Iris decides that now is as good as any time for another couple’s talk. Either the space thing is going to continue indefinitely and so she should pick up her things and officially move back home, or Barry is going to come to his sense.

 

She has run several possible scenarios in her head, but she knows Barry, so she felt rather confident going to bed late last night that it’s going to be either one of the two. She did not, though, anticipate Captain Cold occupying the kitchen when she walked in Saturday morning.

 

Captain Cold, Leonard Snart, international fugitive and kleptomaniac supervillain who had tried to kill Barry several times and betrayed him some more, is currently fishing a heap of bacon out of a sizzling frypan.

 

She freezes for many seconds, and only managed to snap out of it thanks to another sound from the direction of the dining table. Where Barry sat shirtless, sleepily munching on a waffle with a happy look on his face. The sight looks so…so normal that it manages to reel her mind back to the situation at hand. Iris strengthens, eyeing the houseguest with her gaze cold enough to rival his reputation and addresses him in even colder tone.

 

“Snart”

 

“Miss West”

 

Leonard Snart has the audacity to just continue with his cooking, flipping a couple of waffle onto another plate already ply high with others of the same aromatic golden-brown goodness. The cordial nature of his greeting reminds Iris of the only other time they have met, when he was lying in wait at her childhood home and ruined the evening with threats and sarcasm. Suppressing a wince at how crass she had been about his traumatic childhood when he threw it out like an excuse that night, she decides to be prudent and change target, approaching Barry instead. “Baer. What is this? What is he doing here?”

Ignoring her, Snart put the plates of bacon and waffle down beside other breakfast spreads, of which there are many, so casually that Iris wonders since when did this start. Barry, on the other hand, finally opens his eyes and abruptly stands up with Flash speed at the sound of her voice, blushing bright red.

 

“Sit down, Scarlet. The bacon is cooling” Snart chides, but then takes his leave back to the kitchen area, leaving Barry sputtering and flailing back down on the chair, fingers already picking up a piece of bacon before coming back to himself and looking up at Iris.

 

“Um. Hey, Iris. What’s up?” He asks while awkwardly shoving the food into his mouth. “Anything you need?”

 

Iris, perplexed and a little disturbed by what just happened, put her hands on her hips without care for the swinging purse and scarf on her arms and regards her boyfriend sharply “Do I have to need something to come into the home we shared just last week, Barry?”

 

“Um. Er. Well, you left, so” He falters, still reaching for another bacon.

 

“I left!? It’s you who asked for space, Barry. And this is your apartment, so I was a decent human being and left. Because you asked. And you are stalling, what is Snart doing here?

 

“He’s staying here? I mean, he’s part of the team now, and he has nowhere to go, so—”

 

“I don’t believe for a second that a man like Snart has nowhere to go. And what do you mean by ‘part of the team’? He’s a criminal, Barry!”

 

“He’s not! Not anymore, I mean. He’s helping us trying to save you!” is the indignant counter the accusation earns her.

 

Feeling a headache coming and déjà vu of sort, Iris stares Barry down, two slim fingers massaging her own temple. This is like last year all over again, when Barry would insisted that Snart was secretly a good man at heart, then proceeded to risk his own life to help the man, and kept visiting when he was in jail as if he’s Henry Allen 2.0 or something that she doesn’t understand.

 

“Ok, Barry. First, you told me months before that Snart was dead, died as a hero. Or whatever. Now you are saying he’s here to help me? Don’t you think it’s the least bit suspicious? Him showing up now of all time? You said you saw him in the Speedforce the other day, but that was just Speedforce being cruel. How do you know it’s not something like that this time?” Iris probes. “How do you know this is the real him, and not some. I don’t know. Some imposter?”

 

“It’s really Snart, Iris.” Barry sooths, seeming to see her worry finally.

 

“Yes, that’s what he want you to think” She counters, not backing down, crossing her arms on her chest when Barry finally gets up and moves toward her.

 

He touches her shoulder gently, as if soothing an upset child “I don’t think he’s Snart, Iris. I know he is”. The smile Barry sends over her shoulder at that declaration almost made her heart skips a beat, the way it has never done before, and she follows his gaze to where Snart is washing up the remnants of breakfast-making in the kitchen, away and out of earshot had they kept their voice low. Which they didn’t.

 

Cheeks flaming, both from embarrassment that he must have overheard all or at least most of it and from the way Barry’s expression makes her feel, Iris steps back a little. Trying to make sense of the situation without letting her emotions overwhelm her like it did just now, she takes a deep breath and admits defeat in face of Barry’s obvious delight at having Snart—yes, she does have a feeling it’s really Snart—around.

 

“Alright. Then, Barry. I.” She stutters, having lost the steam for her initial purpose of visiting, and deflates. “I, I’ll just go then”

 

“What, hey, no. Stay, Iris. Have some breakfast. Len makes some fantastic waffles! Really, it’s to die for. Our fights would have ended so much differently if he’d offered me some of these back then” Barry implores, seeming bewildered at her sudden change of attitude. Still, the emotional roller-coaster of seeing and arguing over Snart again, and the way their conversation veered off track from what she originally planned are too much for her. She takes in the idyllic breakfast scene in her home of just a week ago, and suddenly feels as if she has done something majorly wrong by barging in. And Snart, even though it seems like Barry has somehow domesticated the Rouge, he’s obviously everything but. There would be no reconciliation or capitulation today, and since those were the objectives of her visit, then she doesn’t want to remain here and reveal her vulnerabilities to an ex-con and an ex-boyfriend.

 

“Tempting, but no thanks. I have something else to do today” Iris begins tucking her bag and clothe about her in preparation, only to be obstructed by Barry’s hand on her elbow.

 

“Wait, wait. I thought you wanted to talk to me. Isn’t that why you came.” He spreads his arms in an open gesture, presenting himself, “Here I am! Front and center”.

 

“I’ll talk to you later, ok? Just. Not today” shaking her arm off the loose hold and moving away quickly, Iris slips out the front door almost as fast as the Flash himself. Head full of conflicting emotions and a foreboding feeling she doesn’t quite understand.

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

“I see I should have included that in my plans to conquer the world. Subjugation through extraordinary waffles. Genius, Scarlet”. A drawling voice snaps Barry out of his stunned stupor from the whirlwind that is Iris West, a little confused about their conversation coupled with a feeling that it was derailed from whatever she actually came for. Still, that comment shall not go unnoticed.

 

“Urrgh. Len, you’re good. But not that good”. Despite his grousing, Barry walks back to the table and its hearty offerings only to ply the world-conquering waffles and glazed bacons as high as it could get in his mouth. Avoiding Len’s sharp eyes that look as if they see everything, including whatever just happened with Iris that Barry is still not quite sure what it was himself, he starts in on the good, good waffles and jams and sour cream and bacon and honey, eating under Flashspeed lest Len swats him on the back of the head with a spatula again like the first time they had breakfast together.

 

Barry hopes Len is polite enough not to disturb his breaking fast. Yes, he wouldn’t. Len knows how to be painfully polite when he wants to, which—“I also see that you haven’t reconciled with your girlfriend yet”

 

 

Urrrghhh

 

 

Continue chewing as if having not heard anything, Barry reaches for his coffee mug. Which is half empty. And cold. Yuck. But he drinks it anyway, because refilling it means going over to where Len stands, his arms crossed, waiting to pounce.

 

“I can’t help but notice that she hasn’t been by the lab since you separated, Barry. As our current mission centers on saving her life, I feel it’s best to keep her in the loop.” The voice continues pointedly while its owner snatches the mug from his hand only to replace it with a new, steaming one. Barry chugs it greedily. Anything to stall for a little more, really, and that includes sacrificing some taste buds to the heat. “You should invite her to the meeting tonight, if you still want to avoid awkward conversations with her, Red”

 

 

Ladies and gentlemen. I present you Leonard Snart the Relentless.

 

 

Spluttering a little, the coffee was seriously hot (and black and sweet just like Barry likes it, but still), Barry glares mildly at the other man, who nonchalantly nibbles a waffle with sourcream and jam on it. Barry gets caught in the delicate way he bites the food, one small mouthful at a time, and feels like a jock football player eating with a nerd friend despite the fact that it would have been the opposite were they in highschool at the same time. “You know who you’re talking about, right? This is me, awkward is my middle name”

 

A raised eyebrow is his only answer. Barry sighs. “Yeah, I know. Full disclosure. Thorough preparation. Maximum participation”

 

“We cannot keep her safe if she doesn’t know what to do with herself, Barry. Put yourself out of misery and talk to her before she just stumble right into Savitar’s path without any of us present”

 

“We still have about two months before he comes for her. And since he showed up, the streets have been quiet. There hadn’t been a meta attack in weeks” Barry said the last part almost bitterly. Figures the bad guys would lay low when there is a Big Bad with capital B out there tormenting him. Len frown at him over the rim of his coffee mug. “Okayyyyy” whiney noise on full effect, and a side of puppy eyes for good measure “but I don’t know what to say to her, Len. I mean, it’s all my fault. I got together with her when she finally said so. Then I just bought a place to move in together without asking. Then I propose to her even though we’re not ready just to change the future and avoid her death. So of course she refused. Then I came to my sense and retracted the proposal just before the moment she decided to say yes. And now we are separated. I do love her, Len. But are we still together? Or are we exes now? And then she just showed up like she wanted to talk but then didn’t! It’s…I don’t know what to do with her anymore.”

 

An uncomfortable silent reigns on the table for the short while it takes Len to sip his coffee. Thoughtfully. A gesture Barry has never managed when presented with such good coffee, so he too goes back to his own half-drank one. Waiting.

 

 

 

 

 

“Isn’t Iris West, first and foremost, your sister, Barry?” A fair observation and valid question, that, but it makes Barry cringe a little.

 

“Foster sister. But yes, she’s my foster sister” He is sure that the little twitch in the corner of Len’s right eye doesn’t mean anything. But then this is Len. Little gestures always mean something, even more than the big ones. “You don’t like it” Barry states, flat.

 

“I have a younger sister, Barry. How do you think your current relationship would feel to me?” Len counters, not quite sharply, but yes, the point is emphasized loud and clear in the little grimace at the corner of his mouth. “But it is none of my business, and my personal opinion shouldn’t matter to you. At least in this. What matters, however, is the work and participation required for us to stop Savitar. As she is his main target, aside from you, we need her informed. Whether she is your sister, your girlfriend, or your ex doesn’t change how Savitar wants to kill her, or how you want to protect her, am I right?”

Not quite sullenly, head still puzzled about Len’s ‘opinion’, Barry nods “Um, yeah”

 

“There. Then bring her to tonight’s meeting. Or have detective West bring her. Him, you can speak with on the phone. Plenty of time between now and this evening to drop a word and be done with it. No awkwardness”

 

Barry rather thinks there is plenty of awkwardness to go around, just not when it’s only him and Len. Still, saying that would only invite endless teasing and hence suffering on his part, so he digresses. “Right. Ok, I’ll ask Joe.”

 

He lets go of his hold on Len’s wrist when the older man gets up again with his empty plate and mug to clean up. It has been like this every morning since Len appeared in his apartment, him letting Barry keep a touch on his body if they happen to be within reach of each other. He would feel ashamed of the clinginess but he doesn’t. He needs to be sure that Len is solid, and warm, and real, and here. Besides, Len lets him, even goes out of his way to make himself easier to access. As if he knows that Barry needs the reassurance of his not-dead status. Well, Len would have been dead were it not for ‘Lady Time’, as Len calls her, took a liking to him for some reason and saved his life. Barry of all people knows how fickle and logically incomprehensible these powers-that-be entities are. Look at what the Speedforce has done giving powers to the likes of Zoom and Savitar and letting them do whatever they want all the while restricting Barry and punishing him for essentially trying to save people from the bad guys. Yep. From where he is standing Barry would more likely to do whatever Time wants of him long before he capitulate to Speedforce without a fight. At least her agent makes him breakfast.

 

 

 

As it is, Barry doesn’t get to call Joe before he was called in to a string of mysterious burglaries and murders involving some guy with magic tricks

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“Scarlet. We need to talk”, Len calls to the speedster, careful to catch him alone in the cortex. There is a vital piece of information to depart, a piece which he is quite sure would distress the already tortured soul of Barry Allen. Disclosure to the team is a must, but some information is better timely shared. And it is time for this one.

 

The kid looks at him askance, but obediently follow him into a room away from the rest of the team. “Are you breaking up with me?” he quips playfully once the door is closed. Len really doesn’t want to shatter this light atmosphere, but needs must.

 

“Barry, do you know who Savitar is?” Len asks softly, putting a hand on Barry’s shoulder, anticipating the sudden movement that always accompany the Flash when surprised.

 

As expected, Barry suddenly gets in closer, a hand clutching at Len’s sweater, gripping hard “You do?”

 

Leonard Snart has always done what needs to be done. It’s what got him here in the first place. Still, this news is one of those he wish wasn’t necessary. The words are hard, hurting his throat. Like phantom pain. “He is you, Barry. You made him. And Team Flash made Savitar.”

 

 

 

It would be Barry’s choice how much he would share with the team, though they all need to know. Otherwise there will be too much opening s for missteps and leaks. When Len finished telling him what he had seen in Time, Barry doesn’t cry, but his eyes aren’t quite dry either. Len sighs internally as the hero moves in close, hiding those watery green eyes and quivering red lips and the crook of his neck. Consoling a distressed friend is not something Len could say he excels at, but he would try. For Barry.

 

 

They still have a lot of work to do.

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A good fight is an effective stress reliever, really.

 

 

Or maybe not, because after Barry managed to catch Abra Cadabra and put him in the pipeline, Snart had gathered them in the Cortex and laid out a plan to use the man as training target. For her and Cisco, of course, because while they might be veteran scientists, they are not at all battle-trained. Even Julian was a little reluctant to agree to this scheme since this bad guy was very hard to catch, and Caitlin was about to breathe a little easier when it seemed like no one on the team support the idea when Barry suddenly rushed away only to come back with an alarmingly chagrinned-looking Joe.

 

There was plenty of stresses all around, then.

 

As it turned out, they got to fight Abra Cadabra anyway. In a very public, very exhausting fight that involved all of team Flash including Wally. It’s exhilarating, really, when it’s all three of them, the original team Flash, plus Wally and Gypsy working on site together and the voice in their head was Snart’s cool, precise tone. Even the way Wally just went with it after a couple minutes of adjusting to the new teammate, or the way Gypsy seemed to click with Snart for some reason wasn’t as strange as how Snart deferred to the Flash when he snapped out an order for them to let Abra Cadabra go through the wormhole Gypsy was trying to close after Caitlin had taken his space-ship down with a particularly vicious blast of frost.

 

 

Caitlin decides not to tell Barry that Gypsy did not let all of the man went through. She decided instead to freeze the half-body left on the street into ice and break it into little pieces. It’s easier to sweep down the drain that way.

 

 

What stumped her though, was how, after the day was over, Snart revealed that he had suspected Joe would let the man out so he had been trying to prepare them for it just in case, and none of them had been angry with him for not sharing. Mainly because it happened so fast, partly because it was Joe who messed things up by acting without discussing with anyone this time.

 

 

Though, she has a feeling that Snart knows exactly what she and Gypsy did, but if he is not asking, then she is not telling.

 

 

Caitlin is pondering all these while she, Julian and Snart wait for the men to finish soothing each other’s ruffled feathers after Gypsy’s departure. (Angry and Disappointed, too. Girl never let on what actually happened). Joe, in particular, is looking uncharacteristically repentant and apologetic, while Cisco and Wally look rather high on adrenaline, and Barry is managing the feat of hanging from Snart’s shoulder despite their equal height. She quirks an inquisitive eyebrow when Julian turns from his quiet conversation with Snart toward her, and frowns when he gestures at the necklace on her neck.

 

 

“I’m not taking it off” She snaps a little more forcefully than she intended to and cover the precious device with her hand. Her voice obviously draws attentions from the rest of the room as there is suddenly silence, and she debates escaping back into her training room, which has become a sanctuary of sort. “I’m not ready” She adds.

 

The new necklace was finished just yesterday, as Julian has managed to alter it so it only partially block her powers so she could use some Frost and help out in the fight. She wasn’t making any ice passages today, but then there was no need for it when Vibe can portal them.

 

Julian doesn’t stop, though, despite her expression turning colder the closer he gets. “I think you are” He assures softly. “You fought very well today. Leonard and I agree that you now know what to do when she tries to take over. Isn’t that right?”

 

“Right. But not here. We’ll do it in the room. With Vibe and Flash present” Snart concurs, and she almost hates it that the days of training everyday with the man has somehow ingrained in her an automatic compulsion to follow his advice. She nods and heads to the training room without waiting to be told twice. Maybe, she thought to herself, maybe I can finally be free.

 

The crux of her problem, she has realized through the daily sessions of physical and emotional tests after tests with the two-men coaching team of CSI and thief, is not a lack of control but the opposite. Moderation is key. Let it happen and direct or disperse it. Do not suppress, do not shut down. Welcome the power.

 

A quiet click and the door is shut. Another deep breath.

 

The room is insulated, Flash is here, Vibe is here, no-one is going to get hurt. No-one is going to hurt you.

 

She takes off the necklace, and nothing happens.

 

Or at least, nothing that she can see. The sharp intake of breath around her, however, tells her enough.

 

“I admire the aesthetic, Frosty. White and blue look good on you” For once, Snart’s obnoxious drawl is comforting. A glance at Julian finds him smiling proudly, and she feels a warmth where there should be only cold. Her smile in response also seems to be the catalyst for Cisco to squeal like a child and bound up to her, peaking at her eyes, her lips, her hair, and every other area that she knows resemble Killer Frost.

 

“Killer Frost minus the attitude. Wicked” He crows happily, reaching a hand out as if to grab her arm then stops himself half-way “Er, is this allowed? Can I touch you?”

 

“You can, but I don’t guarantee if you will have it back unfrozen” She answers coolly, pulling the corners of her mouth in a half-smile half-threat “And I don’t have attitude”.

 

“Ooh. Frosty” A comment floating her way from the other side of the room where Barry was supposed to be interrogating Snart calls for a truly frosty glare, which unfortunately doesn’t deter the speedster who drags the other man closer to where she is standing, now flanked on both sides by a smiling Julian and gaping Cisco.

 

“Now what” spoken shortly, her voice does sound very cold. Well, frosty, whatever. All eyes snap to their strategist, who grins like a fox, which, from her experiences, doesn’t bode well for team Flash’s well-being. Or at least, for her sanity. And what comes out of that smug mouth next proves it so.

 

“Now you be our sleeper”

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

Leonard Snart is not good for my heart

 

It is an observation Julian Albert often finds himself thinking since Leonard Snart, international thief extraordinaire, arrived at STAR lab. Back from the death, apparently. That fact alone is already not good for his scientific and logical heart. But then he himself was Alchemy. Then the man proceeded to expedite his legendary efficiency and round team Flash up into a working team, squeezing every last millilitre of capability from each and every one of them. Julian could have wept with the way things, for once, progress as per scheduled and most likely reaching optimum efficiency.

 

Being invited to help with Caitlin’s issues was a surprise, too. He had thought himself redundant, what with team Flash being full to the brim with geniuses and superhumans. Even Joe West and his daughter have their roles to play, and H.R. being, well, H.R., a mere forensic scientist with unholy obsession with metahuman might as well have been an extra. If not for Caitlin’s kindness, he is not sure he would have been here at all. For Leonard Snart to see him, interview him, even, and find him essential as a part of his plan is like the rain finally arrive after long days of dry, hot summer. Refreshing. And the intensity in his eyes and voice and gestures when he imparts the part for Julian to play makes his heart race with anticipation and hope. After finding out about Savitar’s influence in his life as both Alchemy and beyond, there is purpose in his life again. A collective purpose that is also his as much as theirs, and a definite direction. A goal, and a path to reach it.

 

 

Sometimes his heart skips a beat just thinking how far they have come since the day Leonard Snart came back to life.

 

 

Then the man does this. Laying out another step of The Plan that is exciting as much as it is frightening. Julian wonders why everyone was so surprised when Leonard announced that Caitlin—Frost—will have to be their spy with Savitar. Everyone, including himself, has seen the newsfeed Barry and Cisco have written up from their recon to the future where Savitar kills Iris. They had been trying to change those news since without much effect. Snart had taken one look at the board, realized what they were doing, and promptly scrapped that plan without much fanfare—comparatively so of course—for being too reactive. Julian is sure, though, that Barry had already told Snart everything by that point seeing how fast he came up with their current action plan. Cause, effect, hypothesis, experiment, prove, and trials; and now he is factoring in the fact that Savitar will be expecting Killer Frost to show up and planning to take advantage. His heart might have skipped a little once he realized where Snart is planning to take this course of action.

 

 

Bloody hell. I might want to kiss Leonard Snart’s brain right at this moment.

 

 

Julian glances back to the two men walking over from the corner of the training room to where they are standing with Frost, shoulders touching and one of Barry’s hand inconspicuously absent from view. From the look of it, he is better off not trying to kiss any part he just thought about at all. Julian is not so sure what is going on with the way Barry keeps close to the man, more or less touching him at any moment they are in the same room. He had assumed that Barry must have needed the reassurances that Snart is really alive and solid after the news of the man’s death by explosion, but then it has been weeks since. Well, at least Snart seems to have consented to being perpetually pawed at one point since he has yet to complain and even managed to rein Barry in when the touches were edging dangerously to clinging. Julian is just glad everyone else haven’t started trying to do the same, else then he’d have to join in which would have been rather uncomfortable.

 

 

Julian smiles warmly at the men when they gather and Snart starts on the next stage of his action plan; infiltration.

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barry is living in limbo. In the half-light before dawn. The space in-between, like purgatory. He’s procrastinating on making a decision. Or is it acting on the decision? What decision?

 

 

Maybe he needed to stop denying that there’s a decision to make first.

 

It’s nagging at him. In the quiet moments during the day. Days of planning, training, researching, running, doing his day job. Busy days, yes. God, it’s been days, weeks already since Len arrived. Back. Came back to life. Right there every day—and night. And he’s—No. Damn it.

 

 

He’s distracted again.

 

 

Decision. Yes. That’s what he was thinking about. And Iris.

 

Decision. About Iris. Them, their relationship.

 

It had been weeks since they separated. As in Iris giving him space after that disaster of a marriage proposal, or the withdrawal of one, really. They should have talked by now. Well, Iris came to talk once, but then she just left again without actually talking. So there.

 

Urgh, fine. Alright. Maybe Barry should have tried to talk things out with his currently-on-break girlfriend before she became his ex. (Maybe she already was?) But it’s hard. It’s awkward. And they never got to be alone lately. Iris didn’t come to see him at the precinct anymore, and he himself was always at STAR lab with the team now. And if he’s home, it’s either he’s asleep, or Len’s there with him. For weeks.

 

And it had been the happiest few weeks he’d had since Zoom killed his dad.

 

Ever since then, it’s as if he’d been flailing along with life, trying to outrun the consequences of his and everyone’s actions, only to be outpaced by the version of himself who’d lost the fight with the universe. Knowing who Savitar was and how he came to be was like looking in the mirror of whatifs and worse case scenarios. Only, he was the future, and that timeline was diverted only because Len came back to save him. Because Captain Cold did the impossible and barter with Time, an entity on par with Speedforce, maybe even more so, if She could send Len here and had him stay. To come back for this timeline’s Flash.

 

For Barry.

 

Crap. He’s distracted again.

 

For a speedster, he’s sure terrible at staying on track. Pun intended, of course. Gotta love the puns.

 

Barry turned a corner, avoiding a horde of pigeons—because they’re worse than orcs on the attack—and headed back to STAR lab. Savitar would not be showing up today anyway, Killer Frost was meeting him tonight.

 

It’s time for phase II.

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Well, this is awkward.

 

 

Len looks around the cortex where team Flash gathers, standing loosely in a semi-circle with himself and Barry at the center. Besides Frost, already out playing Savitar with her killer attitude, everyone is here. Meaning the West family, who, despite knowing full well how criminal Len had been, now look to him with almost eager acceptance.

 

 

Except Ms. West, of course.

 

 

From the look of it, Barry literally did as he said he would, and asked his foster father to bring his sister for debrief. The Wests are decidedly not meeting each other’s eyes. Even the youngest West. And Barry seems determined to only look at Len.

 

 

Right. Not his business. One drama at a time.

 

 

“I understand that you all know who Savitar really is?” Len drawls. He can already feel the beginning of a headache when his question only produce guilty expressions—and stubborn jaw clenching in case of the West patriarch and his daughter—all around. Barry shifts closer to his side a little more at that, and Len can’t help but meet his eyes, asking without a word if he need more time on this. The kid just shrugs, “yeah, Len, we all know he’s crazy me”

 

 

That won’t do. But they don’t have time to argue about it at the moment. “We know who he is, and we know how he thinks.” Len continues to head off the noises from the team of sentimentals.

 

 

“If he’s future Barry, then he will know what we do, right?” Cisco chimes in. “He knows everything because for him, it’s the past. He might even know what we are talking about right now!” Cisco gasps, panicked, and thus brings all eye upon Barry who shrinks even closer to Len. Again.

 

 

“Cisco, would you listen before jumping to uninformed conclusion?” Len chides, “we are already in a new Timeline. He doesn’t know our movement anymore”

 

 

“How would you know that” the detective challenges, at which Len only quirk a condescending eyebrow. Because stupid question calls for it.

 

 

“Don’t you think, detective, that if Savitar knows anything since I came here, he would just accept Frost as his partner? Knowing that she’s playing him?”

 

 

Seriously. Sometimes Len wonders how this team miss so much when they are supposed to be talented individuals. “Whatever we did, his timeline is now gone, he is now a paradox. Out of time”

 

 

“As far as I understand, doesn’t that mean that he is going to disappear?” Albert offers. And it is refreshing to see such a non-aggressive participation in discussion. Len approves. He also sends the man a smile because he deserves it. Not because he is a Leonard Snart fan. Nope.

 

 

“Yes, Albert. But he hasn’t, and we don’t know how long it would take until he is gone. It may be before or after he succeed in killing Ms. West, and then where would we be?”

 

 

Barry straightens up at that, “so we proceed”.

 

 

“We proceed” Len nods. “We need all of us to pull this off, so we need a bigger team” he implores, making sure that no one will interrupt him before he finishes speaking.

 

 

“We are not going to wait until Savitar decides to attack, but get to him when we are ready. Cisco and Barry have already isolated the frequency necessary to separate Savitar from this Earth, and Frost will provide the ice container.” He outlines for the benefit of those who are not up to date with The Plan. “Us mundanes are in charge of keeping Ms. West away from being snatched, and Kid Flash,” here, he directs the focus to Wally West, emphasizing the importance of his role “is going to take her back when we fail”

 

 

Len raises his hand to quiet the protests before it starts, glad that he’d already gone over this with Barry at home so at least the boy hero knows not to interrupt. It’s disquieting, though, when Cisco and Albert just accepts his words with a nod, as if they are familiar with their plans failing. “Savitar IS Barry, people, he is smart as much as he is fast. He’s going to figure out where we hide her and take her anyway. What we need is a plan to let it happen, but also track him.”

 

 

“Yeah, but then I won’t be here to do any tracking and I’m not sure any of you would be fast enough with the tech. No offense.”  Cisco shrugges, and Len acquiesces because true. But also “Full offense, Cisco, but I do know someone better than you at surveillance”

 

 

“Who?”

 

 

“Overwatch”

 

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was curious, watching Barry gives center stage to Captain Cold, seeing them talk with small gestures and eye contacts. Even Cisco and Julian are standing back and following instead of parleying their opinions like usual. He hadn’t realized when they were fighting Abra Cadabra the other day, but the Team seems strangely…divided. Looking between two sides of the cortex where the four men stand on one side of the computer station and his dad and sister on the other, Wally wonders just how much he missed by being away with Jesse in Earth-3.

 

 

Then there is the mind-blowing revelation of Snart’s resurrection (like James Bond!) and Barry’s evil twin. Wally is so glad he is not The Flash. So much dramatic shit piling up on one man, he’s not sure whether his brother has the best or shittiest luck in the universe considering he also survived all of them.

 

 

Well, it seems like now they have a fighting chance in the form of reformed Captain Cold, if what Barry said is to be believed. And seeing how they interact like a couple of old buddies already, Wally is going to go with his guts and follow The Plan. Which is SO much better than the old plan, where he himself was—is—another burden for Barry to carry. They have a direction now. He will do better.

 

 

Wally wishes he know what happened with Iris and Barry, though, since they are not talking. Not even looking each other in the eye, too. Hell, even dad is acting strange, not getting in the middle and trying to force them to talk at all. He didn’t even say anything about Barry at home, where Iris is back in her old room.

 

 

Huh. So maybe his brother and sister broke up?

 

 

Damn, saying it like that makes it sound like they’re a cast in Game of Throne. The Westeros. Heh. Winter is passing, though.

 

 

Focus, focus. Cold is talking about Overwatch. The game?

 

 

Ah, no. The person. Oh, Team Arrow.

 

 

OOOOH. Dad is NOT happy. Maybe he should help?

 

 

What? Dad, Mr. “I’ll shoot you because you are a criminal”, backs down for Captain Cold!?

 

 

Maybe they are in an alternate universe. Shit, did he come back to the wrong Earth??!

 

 

“Stop your woolgathering, West Jr., and go practice with Barry. Shoo” Cold’s voice stops him from thoroughly freaking out, fortunately. Wally looks around again only to find that dad and Iris have already disappeared, and Cisco is harrumphing at H.R. who must have just walked in from wherever he disappeared to for days. Julian is texting with a frown as per his normal. And oh, Barry is finishing his phone call with Felicity.

 

 

The intensity of the blue eyes piercing him at the moment is not very comfortable, though.

 

 

“Can I trust you to achieve what you’re told, Kid Flash?” Cold asks him, and he has a feeling that the man is not expecting anything. Like he’s ready to come up with a new plan if Wally says he can’t do it. Can’t stay out of sight and be the contingency plan to save his own sister. And he is tempted. Because he knows failure, he’d done it before. But then, this time, the stake is higher. The stake is his sister.

 

 

 

 

“Yes, you can. Captain”

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Of course the Arrow wouldn’t let his girlfriend come to Central City alone.

 

 

The first time he did, she ended up helping Team Flash threatened Captain Cold with a fake weapon prototype. Knowing it was Leonard Snart behind the furred hood and Cold Gun might have helped eased his panic after-the-fact, but then the last time he was here, there was an alien invasion.

 

 

So no, Oliver is not letting Felicity set foot on Flash’s territory by herself, especially when the person who called for Overwatch’s assistance is not just Barry, but also Snart.

 

 

Considering the man had worked with Sara on a time machine, he wasn’t quite surprised when Barry told him Snart is alive and kicking. And obviously taking charge on Team Flash’s planning and strategy. He’s also grudgingly impressed that Snart managed to train Barry to look before he leap, when it seemed like lessons from Oliver and his arrows didn’t really do much.

 

 

Maybe a couple arrows to the back wasn’t the way to go after all.

 

 

Oliver looks around the cortex of STAR lab, at the people scattering around workstations and transparent glass board, and swallows a resigned sigh when the only one who has clocked his arrival was the professional thief. An inconspicuous nod is all the acknowledgement they give each other before Felicity barrels past him and the room bursts in exuberance composed of hugs and smiles and animated greetings. Letting it play out with a fond smile, Oliver steps closer to the only other two men not participating in the hug-fest.

 

 

“Snart” he greets. It has been years since they met on the streets of Starling, when he himself was still the murderous Arrow and Snart was a meticulous thief who managed to incapacitate him using several traps and some liquid nitrogen. The reason Arrow realized that he is not better than everyone just because he’d trained in a murder island and others had not. So he decided to impart the same lesson to Barry the same way Leonard Snart did to him.

 

 

The man himself greets him almost warmly, with a head tilt and half-smile. Exactly the same motions he’d used when he took Oliver’s mask instead of his life, and left with a quip about ‘greener pastures’. He has kept their acquaintance secret even when Snart turned up as Captain Cold out of respect, but now might be the time to break it. Oliver is about to suggest just that when there is a whoosh of air and electricity that he would never quite get used to, and Barry is right there by Snart’s shoulder, looking back and forth at them suspiciously, “you know each other?”

 

 

Remarkably, the thief turned hero just shrugs at the inquiry and seems not to have notice Barry’s invasion of his personal space. “Yes”, is all the answer. Oliver snorts despite himself. The look shot at him from both men though, is eerie in its synchronicity.

 

 

“We might have tangled a bit when I was still very, very green” He explains when Barry keeps looking at him expectantly, not really willing to reveal his not-quite defeat. It was more of a reality check, really.

 

 

“And so mighty I wouldn’t trust him with lunch.” Snart quips, “Glad you’re not anymore, despite the name change”

 

 

Barry frowns at them, and Oliver belatedly notices the appropriating hand Barry keeps on the older man. His inquisitive eyebrow went ignored, though, so he moves on to the more pressing matters. “Give me a sit rep, what do you need me to do”

 

 

“We need surveillance and containment details on a god” was the cryptic answer. Oliver quirks another eyebrow at his little brother-in-arm who sighs, fondly, at the man in his own arm. The easy intimacy between the two men blares alarms in his head, especially knowing what he knows about Leonard Snart the thief of four years ago. The big brother in him is rather apprehensive with how comfortable and trusting Barry is of a man who call himself a liar and a criminal, but then Snart was one of the Legends, and is already helping Team Flash winning their fight. He will hold his judgement, for now.

 

 

They have a god to catch first.

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

“I can’t believe there is an evil version of you out there, Barry!” Felicity exclaims, aghast, once Team Flash caught her and Oliver up to speed with the supervillain in town. “And he’s here to kill Iris so you all will, what? Turn crazy and start killing people calling yourselves gods in the future? Why would you be? Oh god and Caitlin is with him right now are you sure he’s not gonna kill her? Or worse? Ohnonono it could be worse! If he’s insane then he’s gonna be capable of a LOT of things no offense to you Barry but then he’s not you yet. So—” She breathes in, deep, and calm herself down, meeting the bemused eyes of everyone, even Captain Cold. Ohmigosh Captain Cold is Team Flash. Is it still called Team Flash then? Maybe Team ColdFlash now? “Right, you guys have a plan to catch him. And you need me on the techs. When is this happening?”

 

 

A couple days ago, Caitlin has contacted Julian about Savitar tasking her to go kill Tracy Brand, who he says is the key to making the speedforce bazooka that can imprison the villain. So Cisco, Barry, and H.R. has gone to bring her in. Now, she and H.R. are making headway at it, pending an energy source that is actually an alien technology hidden in the bowel of ARGUS. Which, nope, those people might be worse than a god of speed.

 

 

From the looks her boyfriend exchanges with Captain Cold, though, Felicity suspects the actual plan might not be so much ‘catching’ as it is ‘disappearing’ the villain. Who is Barry. Poor man. It’s been crisis after crisis for this sweet baby of a superhero, she sometimes want to punch Fate in the nose for making him suffer this much. Though from what she’s heard, she ought to deliver that to Speedforce instead.

 

 

“Hey, you alright?” Barry nudges, they are the only two people left at Cisco’s computer station while she is preparing to take over the hacking and programing for their upcoming fight. “Don’t worry, you’ll be save here. We still have some time before Len give Cait the all-clear to bring Savitar”

 

 

Right. They have agreed to leave Caitlin with Savitar, so that they can bring the fight to him. With Iris as bait. Given that she still hasn’t seen Iris, though, Felicity’s not sure how the poor girl would fare.

 

 

And she’s quite sure neither Barry or his friends are aware of the understanding glances passing between the two darkest participants in the meeting, who are now speaking closely in a corner no one dare wander near. Though Barry seems like he really want to, “I know I’ll be fine, Barry. It’s you I’m worried about. And Iris, I guess, since she’ll be the bait in the switch.”

 

 

“Um. Yeah. About that. Iris will get a ride here with Joe later tonight. I already called him about you guys. You know, wouldn’t want him to pull a gun on Oliver or anything” Barry laughs awkwardly, a little forced. His hand coming up to his neck. “I can’t believe they know each other so well”

 

 

Felicity follow his line of sight to the two men she suspects is talking about the most expedient way to kill Savitar. Or maybe not. “Yeah. Me neither. Green Arrow and Captain Cold, allies?” She chuckles. “I’m not sure if that’s scary or hot or both”

 

 

“What?” her friend startles, “why would you find them being allies hot?”

 

 

“What? I have eyes, Barry, and Captain Cold is so hot he’s smoking. The symmetric bone structure, the widow’s peak, the mole, the eyes, the leaning hips. I’m in a relationship, not dead” she enthuses, “and my man is a handsome hunk”

 

 

“Ugh. No. Don’t put the images in my head, please” Barry groans, but he’s smiling. “Yeah Len is hot like burning, but maybe you don’t want Oliver to hear you say that”

 

 

“I don’t know, they look like there is more to their history than just ‘fought once, got over it’. I wouldn’t put it past Oliver, what’s with his affinity with villainesses.” She muses, “at least now he might let me watch.”

 

 

Barry groans louder this time, attracting attention from the very men they’re discussing. “Please stop.”

 

 

“Stop what, Scarlet?”

 

 

Oliver looks amused at the byplay between her and Barry, but then he always is (except that first time in Starling when she kissed the poor boy). Snart dutifully steps close for Barry to hide his reddening face in his shoulder, but not commenting further

 

 

“Whatever, Len. What did you guys decide? Are we storming ARGUS?” Barry asks without looking up.

 

 

We are sneaking into ARGUS. You, are not, Scarlet. You can’t use your speed there, and I won’t risk the government getting a hold of you, no matter how Lyla Michaels insists that she’s cleaning up the operation”

 

 

At that, Barry strengthens up, all embarrassment gone, “you and Ollie are going in alone?”

 

 

“We’ll be in and out. Don’t worry, Barry” Oliver assures him confidently, “Snart and I know what to do. We’ll be quick and clean”

 

 

Already in the process of extricating himself from Barry’s clutch, Snart gives his signature Cold smirk “Back here before you’ll miss us, Red.” Captain Cold has obviously grown immune to Barry Allen’s Sullen Pout of Doom, because he just flicks the pouting man on the shoulder once successfully escaped, “and you need to be here and brief the Wests about how we want to stick their precious daughter in Iron Heights’ Meta Human Wing for a night or two. Good luck with that”

 

 

The terrified dual moans from both Barry and Felicity seem to put a skip in their steps when the Green Arrow and Captain Cold walk away to commit a felony together. Which, for the record, is also both hot and scary in her humble opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

“May I have an audience with you, please?”

 

 

“Hello, dear. You seems troubled. Rare, that.”

 

 

“Well, I need to ask for your…approval. That’s not something I do”

 

 

“You could just take what you want. I like that about you.”

 

 

“It’s what I want to bring that need clarification.”

 

 

“We agreed already, Leonard Snart. Of course I would always allow interesting people

 

 

“Right. Just wanted to be sure”

 

 

“Of course, Leonard Snart. You keep your promises, I keep mine”

 

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the second day since they put Iris in Iron Heights.

 

 

Barry winces at the memory when they (read:Barry) finally drudged up enough courage to tell her, of course after Joe had already talked to Cecil who arranged it discreetly with the warden. They put her at the very center of the Meta Human Wing, hoping that the anti-metahuman barriers installed in the walls would at least slow Savitar down if not stopping him. With the Arrow on perimeter, as he is the one player whose presence they are sure Savitar doesn’t know about, the rest of Team Flash plus Len are working on plan B.

 

 

Thinking back, it was a joint efforts of both law enforcement officers and vigilante members of the team to clear Infantino Street of civilians at night for several nights in a row. As much as they could predict Savitar’s whereabouts, what with Frost still with him and Barry’s trip to the previous timeline’s future, it’s still a delicate process of coordination. They wouldn’t want to put Frost in danger or get caught unprepared, while speed (hah!) is of the essence.

 

 

All the headaches of prepping was still better than the fact that everyone—and he means everyone, including Len—wordlessly agreed that it would be Barry’s responsibility to brief Iris on this plan. Iris, who had been staying at Joe’s for over a month and already moved most of her things out of the loft apartment (their home, his home) last week when he and Len were at the Lab. Iris, who had told Joe that they were working out their ‘differences’ and needed some space apart. Iris, who hadn’t approached Barry again after that Saturday morning what feels like ages ago when she came and went so fast Barry’s head almost spun, the day Len told (lectured) Barry to talk to her already. (Of course Barry had procrastinated and didn’t get any opportunity *cough*courage*cough* to do so since)

 

 

She had been coming to STAR Lab only sporadically after Joe had told her about The Plan in the evenings, which was also about the time when all members were there, but managed to stay away from both Len and Barry except during the bi-weekly debrief. She didn’t even know Oliver and Felicity were there until the day Joe picked her up for the meeting two days ago. Yes, the meeting where Barry had to break it to her that they have been planning to put her in a jail cell without her input, despite Len specifically told the West men (and Barry) to either speak with her or bring her to him already. Of course they all chickened out and avoided doing so until they couldn't anymore.

 

 

The stare Len gave them for that still makes them flinch with guilt every time.

 

 

So it was not surprising when the day after Len and Oliver came back from ARGUS, victorious and suspiciously jovial talking about sharks and national geographic documentaries, both men had threatened to go pick up (read: kidnap) Iris instead.

 

 

“What” Len had drawled, “have you been doing in the few days that we were away, Scarlet?”

 

 

“Um. Work?” He’d tried sheepishly, “we briefed Cecil and got permission for a room in Iron Heights! All we have to do now is, you know, put Iris in it”

 

 

“Are you saying,” Len massaged the side of his head, most likely to dispel a burgeoning headache, “that you plan to just flash her there?”

 

 

“Of course not!” Barry narrowed his eyes at the way Oliver gave Len a sympathetic pat on the back, but then the man abandoned them and walked away toward H.R. and Tracy with the Dominator power cell. So Barry took the opening to flash over to Len’s side, taking the wrist not massaging a temple and earning a sideways glance in the process. “It’s just. Talking is hard, you know.”

 

 

“You are talking to me now”

 

 

“Right. But talking to you is always—. Not always easy but. Not hard, see?” Waving his free hand to indicate the space between them, Barry tried to explain as best he could. “It’s just, talking about feelings with Iris. Now. It's so, so hard. I don’t know what to say to make her not-mad. ‘Cos she’s mad, I will have you know. And I’m not sure what she want is what I can give. Anymore, I mean.”

 

 

It felt like Len was staring at him for a whole minute or longer, but it was probably ten seconds or so, seeing how exasperated he looked. “I understand your dilemma, Barry, I do. But this is not about your personal conflict with her anymore.” The older man continued despite his protest at the word ‘conflict’, “This is us trying to save her from a supervillain that is essentially you, and despite her not needing to do much but sit tight in the plan, she has a right to know what is being done in the name of her survival. You are both adults, you can compartmentalize until this is over. Capisce?”

 

 

“Si, Capitan” Barry sassed back, but he’d felt better already and was formulating a plan to get Joe and Wally involved. Which, well, it’s not his fault all West men are weak to the women in their family. It’s a family defect at this point.

 

 

“Good. Call your cop father like I know you are thinking you’re gonna do. We have much to discuss when she arrive”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barry shakes his head to clear off the unpleasant memory of Iris yelling at him once he finally explained Phase II of The Plan. It got so bad that Oliver had had to intervene and lectured both of them about priorities which, yeah, rich coming from him but again, it got Iris to stop railing on him. He sniggers, reminded again of how Iris turned to glare balefully at Len and Cisco, like she somehow knew that they were the instigators of this idea to put her in jail for her own good.

 

They are in SO much trouble after this.

 

That is, if Iris survive Savitar.

 

She will. Of course, she will. Barry has faith in The Plan. In the team. In Len, who had said one of the reason Time sent him here because She wants to teach Speedforce a lesson.

 

They are going to win this.

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cisco really wants to trust his instinct, or is it his gut? His precognition? Whatever it is, the last time it enveloped him with foreboding shivers, there was a Captain Cold in his lab. And instead of a Flash/Cold fight-to-the-death (figuratively) showdown, Cold’s arrival was an ‘I’m the captain now’ kinda showdown. (And Cisco will admit, if only in the depth of his belly, that the Snarts would be a duo of sexy pirates…)

 

 

The shivers this time, though, is accompanied by a shrill ring of incoming call from Julian’s cell. He puts it on speaker, and Caitlin’s icy voice snaps out before they can utter any greeting; “He’s gone”, and for a moment, the relief washes through Cisco at the thought of paradox Savitar has dematerialized or whatever paradoxes do when their times are up. Then she just has to continue, “he ran out just now, I’m not sur—”

 

 

“Hey guys! Why are we still here? We gotta go get Iris!” Barry speeds in, his frazzled questions cut her off, and Cisco Spidey’s sense peaks like a crescendo of waves. He sees Julian frown at Barry’s back and reaches a hand to mute the phone when the unthinkable happens.

 

 

H.R. walks in, drumming on his own thighs with those ever-present sticks of his, and answers peppily; “Hey, B.A.! Iris’s safe in Iron Heights, aren’t you suppose to go look for Savitar?”

 

 

Yeah. That foreboding feeling?

 

 

The Scarlet Speedster turns around and offers them a smiley thanks like a psycho killer would. You know, the ones you see in comic villains like Loki of Asgard? Yeah. That. And by the time they are gasping in horror, Savitar is gone, and Oliver—ahem—the Arrow is hailing them via the team comm and confirms their fear.

 

 

“Savitar is breaking into the prison, people. It’s plan B now”

 

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

If not for the fact that Snart has given her a different set of instructions than the rest of the team, Caitlin might be panicking right about now. Frost surrounds her like a shroud, keeping her calm. The sound from her phone indicates clearly just what has happened. They’d hidden Iris somewhere, and of course one of the loveable idiotic geniuses just blurted it to Barry’s darker twin because why not?

 

She has to move quickly, fishing the comm. unit out and activating, sliding out of Savitar’s lair on her ice toward Infantino Street. There is a rendezvous and a tight time frame, and she is the only plan B player without superspeed or space-time portal at her disposal. At least the ice is as fast as she can produce them, not Flash speed, but fast enough.

 

Well, she hopes it is fast enough. The adorable idiots will have to chill it waiting for her cool entrance otherwise.

 

Oh. Oh damn. She shouldn’t have spent her time with Snart as much as she did. The pun is contagious.

 

 

 

 

 

Catlin reaches the strip of road where Flash is facing off Savitar, who is taunting him, holding Iris aloft in one hand like sacrificial virgin in demonic ritual. She guesses that is what it is, a ritual to summon Savitar himself. Too bad, from her high vantage point, she can already see a portal opening behind the false god, and Kid Flash ramping up speed a distance away. The rest of the team won’t be far behind.

 

The second she sees Snart stepping out of the blue tear in space, she directs the rest of her Frost at them in an arc, enveloping as large an area as she could. Just like minutes ago in STAR Lab, everything happens all at once without a sound. Or maybe it’s just her, seeing series of event unfold beneath her ice platform in slow motion.

 

Savitar jerks up when he senses her frost approaching, pulling his attention long enough for Kid Flash to run in at top speed, snatching his sister out of range. Snart slides in under the umbrella of ice as it reaches the ground, Speedforce Bazooka under one arm. Barry, intrepid hero that he is, break formation to flash inside as well. Which is, well, as he is wont to do.

 

 

Plan B is on.

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all his long (short) career as Kid Flash, this fight might be the hardest one he will ever take part in, simply because the stake is so personal. His sister cradled against his chest, Wally runs as fast as he can toward Barry, who will take position at his back to stop Savitar in case he make chase. Plan B was simple for each of its parts, but complicated as a whole and hinged very much on Savitar being very much Barry Allen. Barry who, despite having been broken to the point of insanity, would never expect his ally to turn on him. Which Frost just did. From above. Like an emo-rocker avenging angel.

 

But as many times as he’d seen it, Wally is still startled when Barry charges forward instead. The only thing behind him will be ice in under a second, he knows. A frost-air dome to trap Savitar inside, and to be vibrated out of sync with the universe (this universe) by Vibe. Cold enough inside to slow down speedsters, long enough for Snart to shoot the whole thing with Speedforce Bazooka.

 

 

The tell-tale sound of vibrations reach his ears and he makes a gentle U-turn back to the spot Barry just abandoned. Before him, a giant snowglobe glitters in lamp light, phasing in and out of existence like ghostly mirage before staying stable. Visible, but not quite there. He knows that on the other side of this thing is Cisco, working his magic and keeping it out of alignment. Above them stands Frost, who seems to make herself comfortable up there with the bird-eye view, which Wally thinks is a reasonable angle to have of the situation. Beside him is his sister, alive and whole, no hole in her chest or stab wounds anywhere else. Eh, better check.

 

 

“Hey. Hey! I’m fine!” Iris snaps when Wally double checks her for the second time at superspeed. Which, heh, will never get old. He ends it with a hug, though, because alive and not stabbed to death sister is the best sister.

 

“I’m glad you’re ok, sis” He murmurs into her hair. She’s warm. Good. “I don’t know what I will do if you’re not. Savitar waving you around like a doll like that. Shit. Don’t ever get yourself kidnapped ever again, alright?”

 

“…Alright, Wally. I’m here. I’m safe, thanks to you.” She pats his head, her hand feels warm even through the tri-polymer of his cowl. “Now it’s not me that you should be worried about…”

 

She trails off, and Wally abruptly remembers Barry running past him “Shit! Barry!” He swears, twice already but, well, the situation calls for it. Snart isn’t here to lecture him on language, anyway. Wait.

 

“Cold, Flash’s inside the globe!” He hopes against hope that Snart hasn’t finished firing the bazooka. Maybe he hasn’t fired it yet since there’s no sound of high-powered discharge or anything else aside from Vibe’s vibration. “Captain Cold, you hear me!? Don’t fire the bazooka!” He yells out again when there is no immediate answer.

 

Instead of the drawl he was expecting, it's Cisco’s shaky voice that answers him “yeah, no, I don’t think that’s gonna be the problem, Kid.”

 

“What do you mean? Where is Cold?”

 

“He means,” Caitlin’s frosty voice takes over “that both Flash and Cold are inside the globe with Savitar”

 

His shocked “They WHAT!?” is only overpowered by Iris’s demand to know what happened with Barry, but, for the moment, Wally doesn’t have the brain function to answer or placate her increasingly frantic worry. They were supposed to trap Savitar inside a phased ice globe and blast the whole thing into Speedforce, not get inside with him and...what? Was Snart trying to shoot him close-range? Was it an accident and Barry tried to get him out but was just not fast enough?

 

“Shiiiiiit. What’re we gonna do?” Wally facepalms. Seriously, there’s nothing else he could do except maybe braining himself on that frosty globe to make it a hat-trick.

 

“Not sure, dude, but your dad and Oliver are ETA five minutes and that might be as long as I can hold this thing” The perky element in Cisco’s voice in on the edge of freaked out, “and I’m under strict instruction to hold this as long as I meta-humanly can. So that’s what I will do. Frost, another layer just in case?”

 

“I’m not your personal ice-maker” Frost grumbles, and the absurdity of it all startles a laugh out of him. It sounds as desperate as he currently feels. “There you go, Vibe-baby” she coos.

 

“I would have thought that only I am your baby, love”

 

There. That’s it. He will not stand and listen to Julian British-ly flirting with his killer dame. “Please tell me we have a plan C”

 

“Yes, it is called Contingency Plan” Julian resumes his serious tone, “in this case it is to wait until reinforcement arrives and take down the globe. If Savitar is still there, I suggest you fight, but maybe hide Iris first.”

 

“Roger that” Right. Plan C. Keep Iris save. Wait and see if all—or any—of the people inside are alive.

 

Wally picks his sister up again, speeding her to the building a little ways away, just enough so she’s not visible from outside. By the time he’s back by the ice globe and slows down, Cisco is groaning like a wet cat; “Shit, I’m Schrödinger!”

 

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Barry skids to a dead stop when he sees Len standing in front of Savitar.

 

 

Len is wearing a leather jacket that Barry is quite sure is his, from that heist ages ago when he posted as Sam to help with Lewis. The Speedforce Bazooka is discarded at the edge of the large ice globe they are in, Savitar at dead center. He is also dead still.

 

 

Len has stopped his time.

 

 

“Len?” Barry calls quietly, not daring to move closer in fear he will come in range of the stopped time. He’s not sure how it works, but better not to risk it. He needs to be able to move in case Savitar breaks out. Len ignores him, though, just steps closer to the glowing armor. Closer to Barry’s worst enemy.

 

As the agent of Time comes closer, the armor drops to the ground. Noises of metal clanking onto asphalt almost muted by the cold they are all immersed in. Barry hesitates.

 

Len knows what he is doing, Barry knows that, and he trusts him to let his plan plays out. Until Len throw away the plan. Which Barry isn’t sure if that has happened already, since both of them are not supposed to be here inside this frosted globe. Well, maybe Len is.

 

 

The armor opens and Savitar steps out, and Barry freezes when he sees it. The scars on his own face, the blinded eye, the darkness shrouding him.

 

 

This is how insanity looks like on me

 

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Snart?” disbelief and shock color Savitar’s choked voice. He looks at Len with so much bewilderment and hope that it pulls on Len’s heartstrings how both Barry’s reactions to his being alive are so alike. Similar, as if they are the same person. Which they are. “You’re not—” Savitar swallows roughly. “You are not from the past”, he concludes.

 

“And not from other timelines, or other Earths” Len allows, then, “Barry”

 

“The Time Masters—”

 

“Are not my problems anymore, Red. You are.” Savitar flinches at that, but still steps out of his armor. Slowly. Reaching for Len’s arm.

 

 

“How are you alive, Snart? You are supposed to be dead when the Legends killed Savage” Blue-green sparks fly out from where they connect, Savitar's hand on Len’s arm, and his eyes widen in recognition.

 

“Yes, Barry. I’m here on behalf of Her.” He says gently, “She is free now, and she wants you gone.” A hand reaching out to touch Savitar’s scarred cheek when he looks stricken at those words.

 

“You are here to kill me” Savitar summarizes flatly, but not moving away, his remaining good eye not straying from the other man’s face.

 

“No, kid. I’m here to offer you a deal”, Len opposes, voice lowers, drawls gone, only tender care.

 

 

Behind Len, Flash chokes and splutters, “Len! What are you doing?” The kid sounds horrified at the same time Savitar laughs, amused, and smiles at Len which have the effect of shutting Flash up in what might be astonishment.

 

“You and your deals, S—Len?” Savitar glances at Flash, then back at Len, askance. “Is that how you managed to survive sacrificing yourself too?”

 

Len shrugs “In a way. You know me, always up for a good deal.” They smile at each other a little, Savitar huffs out a tiny laugh. Then Len straightens up, starts again, gentling his voice. “I’m sorry it turned out this way for you, kid. But you need to stop.”

 

“Or else Time is going to kill me?”

 

“Close” His hand can’t help but stroking that scarred face, Savitar leans in a little. “Your timeline is already vanishing, Barry. Soon, you are going to cease to exist too”

 

 

A heavy silence spreads in the space of a heartbeat. Savitar sighs. Quiet like the dead, harsh like a punch to the face.

 

 

“That was why I am here, Len” He whispers, a hand raising to cover Len’s at his face.

 

“I’m sorry, Barry, but it’s too late. You will not come to be, even if you kill her today. This timeline has deviated too much where you were not looking. You will be gone anyway.”

 

“Then why—”

 

“I’m offering you a chance, Barry.” Len cuts in, “there’s still time.” They both wrinkles their noses at the unintended pun despite themselves. “If you come with me to the Timestream now, you will be out of timelines. Time will keep you.”

 

“And spend eternity alone?” Like I already did was left unsaid, but heard all the same. Len aches for him, for the man who had suffered so much at the hands of both villains and allies, the latter of which finally broke him into what he is today. And Len wants, needs, to save this man, like he did for him simply by believing that there was good in a man who couldn’t see it for himself anymore. Barry Allen deserves a second chance too.

 

“No, Barry. I will be there soon. We can keep each other company.”

 

Savitar stares at Len, his mind working, then glances at Flash whose cowl is down. Looking stricken at the implication of what Len is offering. All at once, Savitar seems to realize something, and he smiles kindly, for the first time.

 

“You are doing this for Barry Allen”

 

“Yes, Barry. You do realize that I do not want you to die?” Len almost-hisses at Savitar, annoyed that he is being deliberately obtuse.

 

 

“Thank you, Len.”

 

 

With a bittersweet smile, Savitar kisses Len gently on the mouth, to which Len responds hotly, intimately.

 

 

 

And Savitar dissolves.

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time seems to un-pause, but Len is still frozen in place. His hands raise as if a certain speedster’s face is still there. He sighs sadly when Barry finally approaches him, his steps unsure, and puts a hand on Len’s shoulder.

 

“Len?” He asks, “Are you ok?”

The ex-thief doesn’t respond, but his shoulders sag at the touch, familiar from all the times spent in Barry’s company. It takes Len a bit to compose himself, affecting an imperceptible nod in assent that he’s fine. Which, of course, means that he’s really not. Barry opens his mouth either to press or comfort him—he’s not quite sure—but the violent flickering of their cage caught his attention and he steps closer to the older man just in case it collapse on top of them.

 

 

The frost globe melts from the top down at rapid speed as soon as the phasing—that was what the flickering meant—stops. Chatters in the comm. come back simultaneously it hurts his but all of Barry’s attention is on Len, who’s barely moved since that little nod. His eyes blank, his back to everyone who now are approaching them quickly and speaking all at once. The stereo effect is not at all kind to his fraying nerves because well, Len is still not looking at him.

 

They won, but it feels so much like they actually lost, somehow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cisco is the first to reach them despite how exhausted he must be, whooping with joy when he sees that Savitar is no longer there and they are both standing and unharmed. Caitlin lands softly not far from their side, seeming to know not to approach and instead directs Cisco’s attention to the abandoned Bazooka.

 

 

More people join them, Barry vaguely registers Cisco bitching about the scratch on the weapon, and Julian murmuring to Caitlin. Joe is shouting Iris’ name, his feet pounding on the ground, no doubt running to hug her. Amidst these noises, Barry only has eyes for the helpless sadness in Len’s eyes that he can’t quite hide. It makes something in Barry’s chest hurt to see. Wanting to sooth the pain away, he grabs Len’s other shoulder and pulls him into a tight, encompassing embrace.

 

“I’m sorry you couldn’t save him, Len.” Barry’s words stop any struggle before it begins, if it ever would, and Len deflates, meting into his arms for a fraction of a moment before strengthening right up but not stepping away. “I’m fine, Scarlet. But thank you”

 

 

Hands coming down to rest on Barry’s hip, Len finally look up to meet his eyes—the mere inch Barry’s got on him shows in such close proximity—and gives a small, grateful smile mixed with renewed fire of determination “Let’s go back to STAR lab, and maybe we can plan a revenge heist this time.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞