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The Time Beast

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“Captain, there seems to be an intruder in the med bay,” Gideon’s cool voice rang out.

“What? Weapons up guys!” Sara shouted grabbing her staff.

The Legends ran to the med bay weapons drawn, only to stop short.

“Lisa?” Mick gasped, lowering his heat gun.

“Not quite,” the woman said. “But I wanted to look like her in case he woke up before I was gone.” She stepped to the side to reveal Leonard Snart.

Mick almost dropped his gun. Sara stepped in front.

“Who are you?” she demanded.

Not-Lisa hummed and tapped her chin. “I’ve had many names. What I’m called isn’t all that important. But I’ve brought you a gift.” Again, she motioned to Snart.

“Is, is he him? Like alive?” Ray asked. A glare from Mick and a smack from Sara got him to look sheepish.

“He’s alive. Not the same, but no one who encounters me is the same.” Not-Lisa smirked.

“Who comes in contact with you, love?” Constantine asked.

“Most recently, Barry Allen. You can ask him my name,” Not Lisa said.

“Why wait so long?” Sara asked. She was still in a defensive stance. “If you were going to bring him back why now?” It had been years after all.

“That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it. The best answer would be people had things to learn,” Not-Lisa said with a shrug.

“Who?” Mick grunted.

“Again Barry Allen. But also, you, Mick Rory and you, Sara Lance. And John Constantine, you had almost as much as Barry to learn,” she said was an almost found smile.

“Wait, what is Barry to you? Why do you keep bringing him up?” Ray asked.

“I suppose he’s a favored son,” she mused. “But I’ve come and done what I needed to. Take him back to Central City, I feel there is one more lesson Barry needs to learn.” The lights flickered and Not-Lisa was gone.

Mick rushed over to Snart, pushing Ray out of the way. “Gideon!” Mick yelled.

“Scanning now, Mr. Rory.” Then a pause. “Mr. Snart is alive. His core body temperature would be dangerously low for a human, but it appears Mr. Snart is now a Metahuman.”

There was a moment of stunned silence. Sara snapped out of it first. “Plot a course for Central City, we’ve got a speedster to pick up,” she said with a twirl of her finger. She led everyone but Mick and Ray to the bridge.

Not ten minutes later they were parked on the roof of STAR Labs. Team Flash was on the roof waiting as the door opened. “Hey guys, what brings you to Central?” Barry asked walking up to the ship.

“Hey Barry, we, uh, we’ve got a bit of a situation,” Ray said poking his head out the door.

“What kind of situation?” Iris asked walking beside her husband.

“Uh, well, you see,” Ray stammered out.

“Snart,” Rory growled. He pushed Ray to the side and grabbed Barry by the front of the shirt.

“What?” Barry gasped as Rory pulled him onto the ship. “I’ll call you!” He called over his shoulder to Iris as the door shut. “Hey guys what’s going on?” Rory still dragging him through the ship.

Sara came up next to him. “I didn’t mean we should kidnap him,” she muttered. “Hey, Barry, how’ve ya been? We have a situation.”

“So, I’ve heard, what is that? Something about Snart? Being alive?” Barry asked as Rory drug him through the ship.

“Uh, yeah, kinda. He’s unconscious, and he was stable but he’s getting worse,” Sara explained.

“Getting worse how? From what?” Barry asked. He wished they would just give him a straight answer, but as Rory planted him in from of the med bay door, he realized why they weren’t.

There was a blizzard in the med bay.

“Oh. And Snart is in that?” Barry asked shock.

“Leonard is causing that,” Sara corrected. “And we can’t get in. When we tried, we were nearly frozen. But you,” she trailed off.

“But I have a higher body temperature and I’m fast. You realize my powers don’t work well in the cold right?” Barry asked.

“We know, kid,” Rory said. “But we don’t have anything else. I can’t burn it for fear of hitting Snart. You’re our last option.”

Barry was pretty sure that was the longest he’d heard Rory speak.

“Wait, why didn’t we get Killer Frost? She’s made for this; she can’t get cold!” Barry said. He wanted to help, he truly did, but he didn’t think he was the best person for this job.

“Not-Lisa said to get you,” Rory grunted.

“Not-Lisa?” Barry turned to Sara.

“We don’t know. She said you would know, called you a favored son, or something like that,” Sara explained. “She’s the one that brought him here.”

“A favored… I think you guys met the Speedforce. Which, okay, fine. I’ll give it a try.” Barry had a bad feeling if the Speedforce was involved. It was hardly ever there for good things. He hadn’t seen it since he’d left.

He took a breath out his hand on the door. “I’m not going to close it, that’s on you guys.” And he clicked the door open.

Barry was hit with instant cold. Not cold gun cold or he’d be dead in moments, but winter blizzard cold. “Snart! Snart if you can hear me you need to stop this!” Barry called. He started pushing his way through the snow.

“Snart?” he called. He saw a bed. “Snart!” It was so cold. The only reason he hadn’t stopped was sheer force of will, not even vibrating was helping. He leaped towards the bed and grabbed Leonard’s hand.

A few things happened at once.

Leonard Snart gasped and opened his eyes. The storm immediately around them died down. And Leonard’s eyes were glowing blue.

“Who? Where? Barry?” Leonard gasped. His other hand grasped Barry’s wrist. His hands were ice cold.

“Snart, I mean Leonard! Uh, in order? The Speedforce, The Waverider. And yes. You’re, actually what all do you remember?” Barry asked. The storm was still raging just outside of them. He needed to calm Leonard down before he could even think of getting the others in or them out.

“I-I blew up,” Leonard said quietly. “Then, Lisa told me I needed to come back. That I needed you. What was that about?” He raised an eyebrow at Barry.

“No idea. The Speedforce, Lisa, Not-Lisa brought you here. I don’t know a lot more than that,” Barry admitted. “I just got here.”

“Do you know what’s going on with that?” He pointed at the blizzard.

“Oh, um, that’s you, apparently.”

Leonard’s glowing blue eyes blinked. He looked at the storm, then at Barry, then back to the storm, then once more to Barry.

“Nope.”

“Wait, what do you mean ‘nope’?” Barry asked in confusion.

“I’m not holding the cold gun,” he said as if it were the simplest thing in the world.

“Uh, about that. You’re kinda a Metahuman now. Which is how you caused that,” Barry explained.

“Oh.”

The lights flickered and suddenly Lisa, Not-Lisa was standing at the foot of the bed.

“Lisa?” Leonard asked warily.

“Not quite,” she said with a smile.

“Speedforce,” Barry said. It wasn’t a question.

“Hello, Barry. It’s been a while. I do miss you but I’m glad your friends were able to pull you out.” She took a step closer to him and Barry clutched his head.

“Don’t kill him,” he felt Leonard tense, but it didn’t really register. “I’m sorry Iris. But I have to.” He whipped around to the other side. “Wally! Welcome back, man!”

Not-Lisa rapped his forehead and Barry gasped. His eyes came back into focus.

“Is that going to happen whenever you’re around?” He demanded. Not quite angrily, more residedly. Not-Lisa shrugged. “Great.”

“What was that?” Leonard asked in thorough confusion.

“No one comes away from me unchanged. Those who are with me the longest are the most changed. While Barry was with me in Earth time for six months, it was closer to sixty years. Time passes differently for me. And Barry was experiencing so much of it at the same time,” Not-Lisa explained.

“What does that mean for me?” Leonard asked.

“I simply plucked you from Time. You’ve spent very little time with me,” she admitted.

“So why now?” Barry asked. He took an unconscious step back from her.

“Because, my dear Barry, Time is in danger.”

“What?” Barry asked with a cock of his head.

“Don’t the Legends usually handle that?” Len asked, looking between the two of them.

Not-Lisa smirked. “Which is why I delivered you to the Legends and not to Barry himself.”

“And the powers?” Len asked holding up his frost-covered hand.

“I don’t have control over how people react to going through the Speedforce. Perhaps you were always meant to be a Metahuman and didn’t have the right conditions to manifest.” She shrugged. “Despite what Barry says, I can’t give all the answers.”

“You hardly give answers,” Barry muttered.

Not-Lisa stepped forward. Barry’s eyes glazed over. “I can’t choose. Don’t make me choose.” he whimpered then zipped to the other side of the room. “Iris? How, how did you get in here?” He went back to Leonard’s side. “Wally! Now!”

She stepped back. Barry’s eyes cleared and he glared at the Speedforce. “What am I seeing now? Or really what am I saying? I basically spouted all of last year when I came back,” he growled, taking a step back.

“From what I can tell, this mission. You’ll assist the Legends. You’ll need all of them, this version of them. I had to wait for this time,” Not-Lisa hummed.

“What is the mission?” Len asked.

Not-Lisa grinned in a way that could only be considered shark-like. “It’s called a Time Beast. The Legends released it, but it would’ve been released soon enough anyways.” She glared at Barry. “Be glad this is happening now, and the timeline shifted.”

“Why, what was going to happen?” Barry asked.

“If you succeed, you’ll never know. If you don’t, heartbreak,” Not-Lisa mused. “Stop the Time Beast. If I have to step in and stop it, the world as you know it will stop. Good luck, Barry Allen, I’m sure you’ll pass this test as well as the others.”

The lights flashed and she was gone.

“That happen a lot?” Leonard asked.

Barry glared at where the Speedforce was. “Not a lot since I got out.”

“Out?”

“Of the Speedforce. I was trapped for a while as she said. Can you stop the storm?” Barry gestured at the snowstorm.

“No idea.”

“Uh, think calming thoughts? Relax?” Barry offered. Leonard glared at him and the storm whipped around them. “See that’s not helping.”

Leonard rolled his eyes but took a breath. After his third calming breath the storm started to die down. After the fifth breath, they could see the door and by the eighth, it had stopped.

“Oh, this is weird,” Leonard drawled looking at his hands. “I can still feel the storm.”

Barry smirked lightning dancing across his eyes for a moment. “You get used to it. Or really, you learn to work with it.”

“Snart,” Rory grunted storming in.

“Leonard!” Sara rushed over to him.

He gave her an almost shy smile. “Thanks,” he said, eyes flicking to Mick.

She took his hand. “Don’t ask me to do that again. I won’t.”

“I know,” he assured her.

Barry didn’t understand what that was about, so he hung back a bit.

“Hate to break up the loving reunion,” a British man in a trench coat said, waltzing in.

“No, you don’t John,” Sara huffed.

“No, I don’t. Name’s John Constantine. You must be Leo from this earth. I’d never forget those eyes,” he purred walking up next to Barry but looking at Leonard. “Nice to finally meet you Flash.” He gave a head nod to Barry.

“Leo?” Leonard asked with a scowl. The room started to get cold.

“Some pansy from a different earth,” Rory supplied helpfully. “Wanted to be best buds and shit.”

“He’s no longer on the ship,” Sara assured. “Waltzed off to his earth to finish beating up Nazis and kiss his boyfriend.”

“There were Nazis?” Leonard cut in.

Ray chose this moment to walk in. “Leonard you’re up!” He said lighting up. “How do you feel?”

“Peachy, now what about Nazis?” Leonard focused back on Sara.

Barry couldn’t help but feel out of place. Leonard was part of this team. And Barry was part of his own team. Sara still hadn’t let go of Leonard, hand. Barry couldn’t help but wonder what went on with them,

“Yeah from a different Earth, but we stopped them. Well, the alternative Earth legit Nazis there is still others… technically they’re legit but it’s probably illegal to stop them,” Ray said with his cheerful attitude.

“Ray!” Sara glanced at him. “We’ll fill Leonard in. What are you doing in here? I said only a few people at a time.”

“Right! Gideon detected a huge anachronism. Figured we should check it out,” Ray said holding out a tablet to her.

“We’ll fill you in on the way. Gideon! Plot a course for the anachronism,” Sara shouted.

“I forgot Gideon controlled the ship,” Barry mused glancing up.

“Yes, Barry Allen. Welcome aboard. Please speak with Jefferson Jackson or Zari Thomas about any updates,” the AI replied. That gained weird looks from the others.

“No, no, I’m sure everything running fine. Wouldn’t want to mess with you out of sequence,” Barry assured her. He looked at the others after a moment. “Right, uh, I invented Gideon.”

“I need a drink,” Leonard grumbled forcing himself off the bed.

Barry trailed back as Sara, and occasionally Ray, filled Leonard in on what had happened since his death. Barry could fill him in on Central City and his sister later. Last he’d heard she was running a version of the Rogues Gallery.

“What are you doing Jailbait?” Barry nearly jumped out of his skin as Rory came up beside him with a beer.

“What do you mean?” Barry asked when his heart wasn’t going to climb out of his chest.

“You’re lurkin’.”

“I am not. I’m just letting Snart readjust to being alive. It’s not a fun time,” Barry said shaking his head.

“No, no it is not. Least he’s coming back mostly the same. It’s worse when you’re comin’ back a different person,” Rory mused taking a swig of the beer.

“What?” Barry whipped around to face him.

“You think dying’s the worst thing that's happened to this team?” Rory grinned at him and Barry remembered he gleefully burned down buildings. “Not even close.”

Rory shouldered past him and went to sit by Leonard. Barry figured he should start calling them by their first names, at least out loud.

“Captain Lance, we’re being hailed by the Time Bureau,” Gideon’s cool voice came through.

“Ava, hi, what’s, what’s going on?” Sara said turning to face the stern-looking blond.

“Someone just broke into our office demanding to be let on board. Normally they would be taken down, but Nathaniel knew them. And now they are both wanting to come aboard,” she said in a cool voice.

“Hey guys!” Wally suddenly appeared in the hologram. Ava shot him a dirty look.

“Open the gate,” Sara said with a grin.

Wally zipped through and Nate followed close behind.

“Wally! Welcome back, man!” Ray said hugging him.

Leonard looked at Barry, and Barry just nodded. It’s begun.

“Yeah! Hey guys! Barry, what's up?” The look in Wally’s eyes was enough to tell Barry he’d also spoken with the Speedforce.

“Let’s all gather around, and I’ll explain what’s going on,” Barry said after the portal closed. “Uh, who are you?”

“Ava Sharpe, director of the Time Bureau,” the blond answered. “An anachronism of this size demanded my attention.”

“Hi, then,” Barry said with a nod.

Sara came and put an arm around her waist and gave her a quick kiss. Maybe she and Leonard weren’t together, or maybe she’d moved on after Leonard died. Barry shook his head, that wasn’t important now.

There was no use in beating around the bush. “So, the Speedforce, Not-Lisa, said that you guys released something called a Time Beast. She said it would’ve been released eventually but you just made it sooner. And you would need my help to defeat it. I’m assuming since the Speedforce was involved a speedster to stop it,” Barry said with no preamble.

“Two speedsters actually. If we want to defeat it not just delay it away,” Wally piped up. “She visited me too.”

Barry nodded. “She said she could destroy it but there wouldn’t be a world left if she did. So, we want to avoid that.”

“Don’t forget,” Leonard drawled from the side where he was lounging next to Mick. “I’m apparently important too. Important enough to bring back, at least.”

“Right, I was wondering who you were, I’m Charlie,” a lady with a British accent said strolling over to him. She stuck out her hand.

“Might not want to.” He held up his frost-covered hands. “Not sure how to work these yet.”

“‘E can’t control his powers neither? Ha! I already like this bloke,” she said leaning next to Mick.

“Introductions are probably something we should do,” Sara mused. “I’m Sara, this is Ava, that’s Ray, Zari, Wally, Barry, John, Charlie, Nate, Mick, and a newly alive Leonard Snart.” She looked around. “Now that’s that’s out of the way, Gideon, what do you know about the Time Beast?”

“The Time Beast is not well known but is commonly referred to in texts about the God of Speed Savitar.” Barry tensed and glanced at Wally, who had a mirrored grimace. “It was written that Savitar would release it after he’d ascended.”

“Alright, so we kill this Savitar like we did with Mollice and then we get rid of the Time Beast, simple,” Sara said with a smile.

“Uh, not simple,” Barry said quickly. All eyes were on him. “Savitar is dead. He didn’t release the Time Beast.”

“How do you know that?” Ava said eyeing him up and down.

“Iris killed him,” Wally spoke up.

“We fought him two years ago. Stopped him from becoming an actual god. He was just another speedster,” Barry said with venom in his voice. He could feel Leonard’s calculating eyes on him, and Barry would hang up his cowl if Leonard wasn’t going to demand information.

“Okay, so not Savitar,” Sara said slowly. “I mean we let it out, so that’s not really important. We need to kill it. Nate, I want you to research, John, help him. Sending this thing to hell may be the easiest way to do this,” Sara commanded. “Zari, make sure the ship is in tip-top shape, we may need to make a quick exit.”

“I’ll help,” Charlie said cheerfully. Zari rolled her eyes as Charlie padded after her.

“Leonard, your old room is still available, if you want to settle in. Wally same to you. Barry, I’m sure we can find- “

“Actually, Barry’s staying with me,” Leonard said surprising most of them, including Barry. “I know nothing about this power, he’s trained someone similar. We don’t know what’s going to happen and we don’t have a lot of time. This is the most efficient way.”

Sara just nodded. Barry gaped at Leonard as Sara continued. “Ray make sure our tech is good. We’re going to need to be out best against this thing.”

“Sure, thing Sara, Mick you want to help?” Ray said walking over to him.

“No,” he grunted but Ray was not phased and grabbed his arm to drag him to the lab.

“I’ll help too!” Wally said excitedly.

“Barry and I are going to settle in, have a chat, catch up.” Leonard grabbed his arm and Barry hissed at the cold, but Leonard just dragged him out.

They were in the hallway and Barry swore it was getting colder.

“Get me to my room,” he growled. “Third door on the left.” Barry could now see the concentration on his face. No wonder Leonard got them out of there.

Barry zipped them in as Leonard became too cold for him to touch. He vibrated his hands to get feeling back. Leonard’s eyes were following blue.

“How do I stop this Barry?” He growled. He tucked his hands under his armpits to stop the ice, to little avail.

“Think calm. You’ve got to fight it,” Barry said, also trying to stay calm.

“I’ve been fighting it,” Len growled. His glowing blue eyes focused on Barry. “That’s the only reason the ship isn’t a snowstorm.”

“Oh, okay, uh.” Barry thought back. “Gideon? Can you secure this room?”

“Oh, course Barry.” Then there was a pause. “Room is secure.”

“Okay, Leonard? I’m going to touch you… try to focus on me, you said it feels like a storm, right?” Barry edged closer. He could feel the temperature dropping as he got closer. “My lightning is a storm too. You can’t control a storm, trying is just going to hurt you, or someone else.”

Barry vibrated his hands to heat them up. Then he put them on either side of Leonard’s neck, thumbs brushing his jaw. His eyes locked on going blue ones.

“Feel the storm, feel my storm.” He felt lightning dance across his eyes. “It’s not there to hurt you. Just breathe. You’ve got to weather the storm, but it’s not going to hurt you.”

“Sure, feels like it hurts,” Leonard snapped.

“Focus on the sensations individually,” Barry didn’t know what he was saying but it sounded good. This wasn’t like Killer Frost and Caitlin. There weren’t two people in one body fighting for control in Leonard, it was Leonard fighting himself. This was like him, feeling the lightning that was in him to access his power.

“Let the storm out, but we’re in a shed, a house, it can’t touch us here,” Barry continued. The temperature dropped even farther but Barry held on. “Make it snow. It’s cold and terrifying. But it can be light and fluffy and fun. Make it snow Leonard.” He commanded.

The cold changed. It didn’t feel as harsh now, but Barry didn’t dare look away to check. “Good. Now, make it cold enough to keep the snow but not to make more. Focus, Leonard. Focus on just the cold.”

Barry wasn’t sure how long they were standing there, probably just a few minutes, but it felt much longer as Leonard’s eyes stopped glowing. When they finally did Leonard collapsed back onto the snow-covered bed. Barry stumbled back to the wall.

The floor was covered in a few inches of snow and the walls were covered in a thin layer of frost. They were both breathing heavily.

“Len,” Leonard finally said. “If you’re going to call me by my first name call me Len.”

“Oh, I just figured because Sara did,” Barry trailed off at the sharp look from Leonard, from Len. “Right, Len, got it.”

“Are using powers always going to be this exhausting?” he finally asked flopping onto the bed.

“It’s possible. When I first got my powers, I kept passing out because I needed more calories. It’s possible yours could work the same. But Cisco and Caitlin don’t have the same side effects. Every power is different,” Barry explained.

“Ugh,” Len groaned. “Tell me about things in Central while I recover.”

So, Barry did, vibrating every now and then to keep warm. Lisa was running what was left of the Rogues. Which was not a lot. Hartley because they could pay him, Shawna was the medic, Mardon was in prison, so was Axel, Bivolo was in the wind, and Sam and Rosa had an unsteady alliance with her. Barry didn’t know much about them, so he started telling him about the past year or so.

He’d been framed for murder. Len perked up at that, he glossed over his time in prison. They’d defeated the Thinker and his satellite started crashing to the ground. He’d made a giant tornado with Wally and Cisco and his ex Cynthia had blasted it to a dead Earth with only minimal parts missed and minimal damages. They were still working on what was going on with the pieces.

“How’s Miss West?” Len asked. He sat up to look at Barry.

“It’s West-Allen now,” he held up his hand to show off the wedding ring. “But good. Good, she good. Sorry you missed the wedding. There were Nazi from another Earth. There was also another you, Leo,” Barry said.

Len wrinkled his nose at the name. “Never was a fan of that name.”

“Well, don’t worry. He and his boyfriend went off to their Earth to finish fixing the Nazi problem after we took out their leaders. Or I guess his fiancé now,” Barry said with a laugh.

“He had a boyfriend? Who?” Len asked, staring intently at Barry.

“Oh, yeah, Ray, actually from our Earth,” Barry explained. “Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable or something I didn’t even think about the sexuality or anything.”

“No, no, at least one Leonard is happy. And sexuality? Scarlet are you blind?” Len asked.

“No?”

“Then you’re stupid. I’m pan, kid. Everyone is free,” Len said with a roll of his eyes.

“Oh, I just, I didn’t know,” Barry said turning Flash suit red.

“Not something you advertise in the criminal underbelly. Wouldn’t expect you to know. Didn’t think you could miss the flirting I was doing but if you don’t swing this way it’s understandable you missed it,” Len said with a shrug.

“Wait! I thought you were just trying to throw me off my game!” Barry yelped. He never thought the flirting and taunting that kept him up some nights was just to get under his skin.

“Eh, just a dual benefit,” Len said with a shrug.

“Why didn’t you say something?” Barry whined.

Len barked a laugh. “Thought I made it pretty clear.”

“I mean, say something like a normal person!” Len just gave him a look. “Okay, yes, point taken. Not really a normal, er, relationship we’ve got going on here.” Barry looked away, embarrassed and unable to meet Len’s eyes.

“But now you’re married to Mrs. Allen.”

“West-Allen actually. She wanted to hyphenate,” Barry explained.

Len just hummed. “Why’d you tense at Savitar?”

Barry sighed; he’d been expecting that. “Savitar did his best to kill Iris before we were married. Put all of us through a lot, put me through a lot. That was one of the most strained points that Iris and I had,” he said slowly.

“And when we finally figured out who Savitar was, it was me.”

Len blinked at him in confusion but didn’t interrupt. He let Barry slowly continue.

“A time remnant, so not the real me, or so he claimed while the others were there. But do you ever just, do you ever just know something? I know it was me, the real me. I don’t know how I started the loop. Maybe something else killed Iris the first time, and then I got the idea to go save her and it didn’t work and when I embraced that I realized how much more powerful I could be. So Savitar was going to push me to become him sooner, to become more powerful sooner.” Barry shook his head, not daring to look Len in the face.

“I could never tell the others. We all cheered when he was gone. But I couldn’t help thinking about what would happen if they knew it was me. I saw what happened when I didn’t save Iris. No one was on my side, except for Cisco. They wouldn’t look at me the same. I couldn’t stand being alone, I wasn’t strong enough.”

He didn’t expect to feel a cool hand on the back of his neck. “You succeeded Barry. You, a guy who doesn’t need a time ship to time travel, should know that time is malleable. Iris is alive, you’re alive. I’m betting I was dead in that timeline. If something happens, I’ll keep you good. It’s only fun to be bad when a cute guy in leather tries to stop me.” Len winked at him.

Barry barked a laugh. “Thought the Legends turned you into a hero?” Barry countered.

“Nope turned me into a Legend. Hero’s still not on my resume,” Len mused.

Barry laughed harder and looked up. He just realized how close they actually were. Len’s thumb was rubbing soothing circles into his neck while standing in front of him.

Sara’s voice came over the speaker. “Guys, we found the Time Beast and speedsters, I think I know why you’re here.”

Len and Barry shared one more look before Len let Barry go. In another moment Barry had them on the main deck. Sara snapped at Nate then pointed to Barry. “Tell him what you just told me.”

“Okay, well we weren’t able to find a lot.” Despite that, Nate looked giddy. “But we did find that the Time Beast and Savitar were supposed to be partners, like in every sense of the word. It’s possible that since he’s not here the Time Beast will be weaker.”

“So why are you all excited, man?” Wally asked coming up next to Barry.

“Because there are only a few mentions and nothing confirmed! Now we get to see this thing and maybe some questions will be answered! Think of it, this is like meeting a god! How are you not excited?”

“The last god I met was a dick,” Wally muttered.

“And I regularly interact with one of the most powerful forces in the universe, not really looking forward to this,” Barry muttered.

“Also, wasn’t Mollice kinda like a god?” Sara mused.

“Demon, actually,” Ray supplied happily.

“But he didn’t talk to us,” Nate pouted. Ray wrapped him in a hug. “I just wanna talk to gods,” Nate mourned.

“I know buddy, I know,” Ray shushed him while Len and Barry shared a look.

“Anyways, Barry, Wally, you guys need to see the Time Beast,” Sara said gesturing to the screen.

Gideon pulled up the Time Beast. Or what they assumed was the Time Beast.

“Iris?” Barry whispered. She was just wandering through the woods, wearing a lilac purple gown.

“Barry,” Len grabbed his arm, the cold snapping him out of his shock. “Don’t bolt down there. We don’t know what she can do, and unless your Iris is eleven years in the future, this isn’t her.”

“Eleven?” Barry glanced at the date. 2030. “It only takes eleven years for her to get out.” His eyes harden. “I have to talk to her.”

“Talking isn't really what we do,” Mick grumbled.

“Finally, someone with a brain,” Ava sighed. “Talking is the correct way to go here.”

“You really think an ancient evil is going to chat, love, sorry, Pet?” Constantine scoffed.

“I think it will if I’m in the right outfit,” Barry muttered.

“Way ahead of you Bear,” Wally said with a smile.

Barry grimaced and turned to Len. “How do you feel about leather?”

All the Legends were watching the monitor, Barry knew this. It took him only moments to figure out Savitar’s suit, even with everyone gaping at him. Then he used Gideon to copy the disguise pen H.R. had and Len was Killer Frost.

“You owe us an explanation when you get back,” Sara said, eyes wide as they left the ship.

Yeah, that was fair. He sped them to the edge of the clearing. The Time Beast was sitting on a stump as if she were waiting.

“Hello, Savitar,” she purred. “Thought you forgot about me.” Barry suppressed a shudder, seeing Iris’s face pout at him.

“Never, I was simply biding my time. You seemed to have gotten out well enough on your own,” Barry said in a bored tone. It came out harsh and terrifying through the suit.

“Umm, I’m sure.” Her eyes flicked to Len, well, Killer Frost. “Out of all the ways this was to happen, I'm glad it was this way.”

“What are you talking about?” Barry asked.

“Barry Allen, while you have the potential for darkness, this version of you is ultimately not. But the potential is all I really care about. And out of everyone on that ship you and Leonard Snart have the most,” she said with a sharp grin and wicked eyes.

“I’m not him,” Barry said, trying to stay cool. “Frankly I’m insulted you-”

“Save it,” she snarled. “Let’s have some fun, shall we?” She took a deep breath and blew. Barry could feel Time ripple.

Suddenly he was in his Flash suit, the one he had when he faced Savitar, and Len was in his Captain Cold gear, cold gun included.

“There, changed the time a bit. Now we can have a proper conversation,” she mused.

Len shot at her and Barry saw her move, or more accurately he saw her move everything else, so the blast hit a tree.

“Let me explain something. I feed on potential timelines. Every choice someone doesn’t make is a different timeline for me to absorb. This gives me an advantage. Some things are small, you chose to wear khakis instead of jeans, turned right instead of left. Other things not so much, the president signed a bill, a particle accelerator went off a few years too early, stuff like that. The bigger the choice, the longer I can affect it. And with as much as you’ve affected the timeline, I could affect so much of your life, Barry.” She stepped closer to them.

“And you, Leonard, wanting to be the best. I was sad when you died, so much wasted potential. But now you’re back and there are so many timelines dancing around you, waiting for you to choose.” Her eyes were light with something that made Len’s blood run colder.

Barry leveled his gaze at her. “Does that mean you won’t affect our timeline?”

“Well, Flash, every new timeline has people, even if they aren’t yours. But eventually, I’ll run out of alternatives. Then I’ll devour this one, killing this Earth of the multiverse,” she explained.

“How long?” Len asked, always a numbers guy.

“With Savitar, it would’ve taken decades, he forced Barry to create so many different timelines. Would’ve taken me a while to get through. But now, in this time and timeline, Barry is gone, Wally is gone, Nora was never here, so I’m all out of speedsters.” Barry’s breath hitched at Nora’s name. “It’ll take me a year, maybe two. Then I’ll hop to a different earth.” She jumped a little and the earth rumbled. Lightning struck in the distance.

“Unless my keeper steps in. But then, it won’t be much of a world anyway.” She settled her eyes onto Barry’s. “Unless you volunteer to watch over me. Then it could turn into decades. I did design my looks for Savitar after all. Shouldn’t be too hard to stay with me.”

“No,” Len growled. The temperature dropped and snow formed around them.

The Time Beast licked her lips as Len attacked. Barry watched it, following Len as much as her, getting ready to step in. Every move Len made the Time Beast would counter. But she didn’t strike first, or at all, letting Len wear himself out. He collapsed to his knees in front of her, breathing hard. The snowstorm turned into light flurries.

The Time Beast wrinkled her nose at the snow, then scoffed at Len. “Perhaps I was wrong, maybe there’s not a lot of potential. Better to take it all now then let it go to waste.” She knelt and grabbed the parka, pulling him into a deep kiss.

In her eyes, Barry saw everything Len could’ve done. She was starting young; Barry could see Len’s childhood. She was taking his choices he hadn’t made. She was going to take the choices he was going to make.

“Don’t kill him!” Barry said lunging at her. She took a moment to react, enough for Barry to touch her, knock her off Len. But then he was tackling Len and she was standing above them.

“Think on my offer Barry. What're a few decades to a man that will live hundreds? I’ll wait for twenty-four hours. If the Gideon leaves, or you aren’t here, I’ll know your choice. And I’ll show you no mercy next time.” And with that, she strutted off.

Barry grabbed Len and flashed back to the ship, to the med bay. “Gideon!” he shouted hooking Len up to her.

“Mr. Snart is stable at his new lower temperature,” she chimed.

“Then why is he unconscious?” Sara asked storming in with Mick. The others hovered at the doorway.

“It is possible Mr. Snart is catching up. He may awake with slight memory loss. It is unlikely he would notice as the Time Beast only got to his early adulthood and not the more recent present,” the AI answered.

The room seemed to let out a collective breath and Len woke up with a gasp.

“Leonard, hey it’s okay,” Sara said stepping forward.

“Barry,” he breathed.

“I’m here.” Barry grabbed his hand.

“She didn’t, she didn’t attack. Only reacted. Had to, had to make sure,” Len said forcing himself to sit up, with Sara’s help.

“You attacked her, to see how she would react?” Zari asked from the doorway.

“This bloke’s crazy! I luv ‘im,” Charlie said with a barking laugh.

“John, you got anything for this?” Sara asked.

“There are some purely reactive demons, though this ain’t a demon. Let me consult some resources and get back to ya, love,” John said. He grabbed Nate’s arm and hauled to presumably the library.

“I wanna summon a demon!” Charlie called rushing after them.

“No summoning on my ship!” Sara yelled with a roll of her eyes.

“I managed to touch her. As she was, um, draining Len. She was distracted enough for me to touch her,” Barry told them.

“Good, because you and Wally are probably going to be the only ones that can,” Sara muttered. “And she’ll need to be distracted to do it.”

Barry said “No,” at the same time Len said, “Okay.” Len whipped around to glare at Barry, but Barry ignored it.

“Len’s not going back out to her,” Barry said firmly.

“Not your call to make, Scarlet,” Len said standing up. He wobbled slightly but didn’t fall. He also hadn’t let go of Barry’s hand.

“I’ll see if I can make something to contain her,” Ray piped up. “Z, wanna help?”

“Yup,” She said popping the ‘p’ and following Ray to the lab.

“I’m going to get Len to the cafeteria, we both need food,” Barry said tugging Len out.

The others let them go. Wally hovered around them and Mick drank a beer at the doorway. Barry ate a lot, he was getting low on fuel, but Len just picked at his food. Barry worriedly watched him.

“Spit it out Scarlet,” Len grumbled, finally eating the fry he’d been stirring in ketchup.

“How are you? A lot has happened in a really short time and I want to make sure you’re okay,” Barry said in a rush.

“Peachy.”

“Knock it off Snart,” Mick said walking over and smacking the back of his head before sitting next to him.

Len eyed him but didn’t comment. He focused back on his food. “Ask me again if we survive. I’ve saved the world from Time once and it didn’t end well for me. Hoping this time turns out better and I survive,” he mumbled.

“You will, Len. I swear,” Barry said.

Len glanced up to see so much conviction in his eyes he was almost inclined to believe him.

They all finally had to get some sleep. The Time Beast hadn’t moved from the clearing, seeming intent on keeping her promise. Gideon would alert them if anything changed.

Barry and Len went to his room and worked on Len focusing where he wanted the snow to go. Only when Len looked and felt ready to pass out did he allow them to sleep. He’d made progress. He could direct the snowstorm and shoot snow from his hands now.

Len collapsed into bed. Barry only joined him when Len said he’d freeze him to the bed with the cold gun if he didn’t get to bed.

The ship was a flurry of activity when everyone was awake. Len was training with Mick; Barry was with Sara and Ava coming up with a plan. And the others were working on the same thing as that night, with Wally helping Zari and Ray.

When there were two hours left, they burst into the main deck. Ray was grinning proudly. “Tada!” He held out a collar to them.

“What’s that?” Ava asked.

“It’s what’s going to hold the Time Beast,” Ray said proudly. “It’s made using everything we could think of, multidimensional technology.”

“Magic.” Zari held up her bracelet.

“Black magic,” Constantine sighed.

“And Speedforce,” Wally chimed in.

“And this will hold her?” Sara asked.

“It should. I mean obviously we can’t test it, but, yeah. It’s our best shot,” Ray said holding it out to Barry.

“Good, because we have a plan,” Barry said.

No one liked the plan. Barry didn’t even like the plan. But it was their best shot. And only after a lot of arguing did the others agree to it. Or more accurately did the others stop fighting against it and went to get ready.

With less than an hour to go, they suited up. Barry met the Time Beast in the clearing.

“For once you weren’t late, even I didn’t see that in your potential,” she teased.

And Barry almost smiled. In that tone, he could pretend it was Iris. But it wasn’t.

“You said I would live hundreds of decades. What would happen if you took all of them now?” Barry asked plainly.

The Time Beast’s eyebrows shot up. “That would satisfy me for many years,” she purred. “Are you offering? Or just being a tease?”

“I’m offering. My life and you wait until all of my friends and family are dead before you start up again,” Barry said in a hard voice.

“Current family. The ones you know. I’ll include Baby Jenna in that, but any descendants don’t count. I won’t starve because your descendants have a healthy sex life,” she counters waltzing up to him.

“Fine,” Barry said through ground teeth. Even if the plan failed, he would buy the Earth seventy-plus years, hopefully.

“As much as I would enjoy you at my side, I’ll enjoy this even more,” the Time Beast purred.

She tangled her fingers into his hair and pulled him to his knees. He couldn’t help the whimper that escaped. He really liked hair pulling. She attacked his lips an instant later.

Barry felt frozen. He could see all the choices he hadn’t made. It was weird. A lot focused on his childhood and his dad, or Iris. All the decisions he could’ve made but didn’t.

His skin started to tingle, and he hoped it was Constantine. But he only focused on her, anything else could be disastrous. When he felt the Time Beast start to pull away he threaded his fingers through her hair and kept her there. She didn’t put up much of a fight. She was enjoying this, going through each timeline fully.

She got to the Particle Accelerator Explosion much too quickly for his liking. He managed to pry his eyes open for a moment, watching the explosion as the ground around them flamed purple and a snowstorm raged. His eyes fluttered shut and he watched different ways his coma could’ve gone.

“Wally! Now!” someone shouted. It was a warning. But not enough of a warning.

The collar snapped around her neck and she wrenched back. “No!” she snarled.

The snowstorm died down, but the purple stayed around them. Barry could now hear John keeping the spell up, keeping them trapped.

“I’ll give you this much Barry, it was a good plan. But now you have a choice,” she said standing up.

“The moment this barrier comes down, I’m going to kill your friends. Your choice is will it be these friends? Or the ones in the future?” she said in a hard voice. “This collar is clever. But it won’t hold for long, and you don’t have a way to kill me. So, choose.”

Barry didn’t say anything. He couldn’t. The collar was a long shot, and this was Constantine’s most powerful demon trap.

“Maybe I should make it simpler. Your life with Iris? Or a potential life with Leonard.” Barry’s eyes snapped to hers. “Yes, you heard me. I may have been savoring you, but I could still feel all your timelines. All the what if’s about each of them. What if Eddies didn’t die? What if Iris had said no? What if you’d done something about that sexual tension before it was too late with Leonard. Well, guess what Barry? Now you have to face your what if’s.”

She grabbed his jaw and forced him to look at her. He could feel all eyes on him. “Unless I kill him now. Then, you get to go back to your life with her. You get to ponder your what if’s with consequence. You get your boring life, predictable life, the one where you disappear. Or you can have the possibility to change. You’ve been controlled your whole life. For once make your own choice,” she growled. Her grip was bruising.

“I can’t choose,” he whispered. “Don’t make me choose.”

“If you don’t. I will choose both,” she hissed, squeezing even tighter, Barry briefly wondered if she would break his jaw.

“But you won’t act on it,” another voice said from the woods. The Speedforce, as Not-Eddie, stepped out of the woods, smiling brightly like he didn’t have a care in the world.

“Hey, Bear. Told you, you could do it,” he said stopping at the edge of the barrier. The Time Beast let him drop.

“So, you send in your favorite to do the dirty work and then come to collect the prize?” she snarled.

“Yep. John, drop the barrier. I need to collect my prize.” The glow faded and stopped altogether after a moment.

The Time Beast lunged but the Speedforce caught her easily. “Now, now,” he chided. “I promise not to neglect you now that you’re awake. But you can’t destroy this Earth, or any of my Earths, got it?” he said holding her close and stroking her back.

She nuzzled into him. “Fine. You're better than Earth anyways.”

“I apologize for the task Barry,” The Speedforce said as he walked over to him. Barry’s eyes glazed as he stood up. He placed a chaste kiss on Barry’s lips. “Figured you’d want the timelines back. Plus a little.”

“I, I love you.” His eyes were still glazed. Len knew that meant he wasn’t actually talking to the Speedforce, but the others shared confused looks.

“Goodbye, everyone.” And a vortex opened up, the Speedforce and Time Beast walked through. Only then did Barry’s eyes clear. And he collapsed.

The last thing he heard was Len shouting Barry.

He awoke slowly, someone was petting his hair. It was nice.

“Hey Bear, you with us?” a feminine voice asked.

“Iris? How, how did you get in here?” His voice was rough, and his mouth felt like cotton.

“The Legends rushed you back to Star Labs. They didn’t want to celebrate without you, so I was supposed to tell them when you were awake,” she said with a smile.

“Hmm okay,” he hummed, already drifting back to sleep.

The next time he woke up he was alone, and a lot more coherent. He’d been dreaming about different timelines. The Speedforce didn’t just give him his memories of what the Time Beast had seen but also someones she didn’t look at. Mostly about Len.

He had been in love with Iris for years, but that love had changed. He’d proposed to change the timeline and when they survived, he’d been so giddy about finally getting the girl he didn’t stop to think about how they had changed. He didn’t realize he’d missed what was in front of him, too busy chasing Iris. He also missed that he and Iris were too alike, too emotional and volatile to be considered a healthy couple.

He’d let Linda go; she was too similar to Iris. They both knew it and it wasn’t fair to Linda. Felicity was pining after Oliver, but who wouldn’t? Patty was wonderful, they were alike enough, and she figured out he was the Flash and still looked like he was wonderful. But she had her own things going on, and he respected that.

But with Len… Len was cool-headed, quick-witted, and someone who could go toe to toe with him. Someone he could stand up to, speak his mind around, and have discussions. He realized a lot of conversations with Iris devolved into conversations about Iris or how she’d felt about what Barry had done or might do.

Len wouldn’t judge him. And he’d proven time and time again he wouldn’t judge Len.

He needed to talk to him.

But first.

“Barry, you’re awake. I’ll get Caitlin,” Iris said with a smile.

“Wait, Iris, please. We need to talk. About what happened,” Barry began.

“Don’t worry, the Legends filled me in,” she waved him off.

“No, about what I saw. They showed me different timelines, choices that I didn’t make. And I realized there was one choice that I made that was wrong, and I’m sorry,” he said quietly.

“Barry, I don’t understand.” Her brow crinkled in confusion.

“Iris, you know how I feel about Len, about Snart. We’ve talked about it,” Barry said, finally looking up at her.

Her expression darkened. “I thought we were past this Barry. You thought he was good; you were ultimately right. But it was your desire to prove that, to prove he was good that made you think you were attracted to him,” Iris said, crossing her arms.

“I would’ve thought that. But then I talked to him. And now that he’s back, I-I can’t let this go. The Speedforce gave him a second chance. It showed me the potential. It, it showed me how not right we are. Iris, we have so much history.”

“Which is why we work, Barry. We know everything about each other. No secrets. That’s how a relationship is supposed to be,” Iris said cutting him off.

“No, Iris. Don’t you get it?” Barry almost begged.

“Yes, Barry I do. We are the Flash. You and me, because of our history. We save the city regularly. We stop Metas. We lead this team,” she insisted.

“No Iris!” Barry finally snapped. “We are not the Flash. I am. I save the city. I’m the Flash. All you’ve done is use me. For your blog, your paper. You claim that we’re the Flash but I’m the one who goes out every day to face the villains. I’m the one that gets hurt. I’m Barry Allen. I’m the Flash. And I’m tired of pretending to be okay with how you treat me and my identity. You want to be the leader? Then do it as yourself.”

Barry didn’t know where this was coming from.

That was a lie, he did. It was those little thoughts the niggled at the back of his mind that he brushed off and pushed down thinking it made him a bad friend, boyfriend, and husband. But he had feelings and it seemed no one cared, least of all Iris, who was gaping at him.

“You’re not the Flash, Iris. And frankly, I don’t want you anywhere near me until you realize that.” He got up from the bed on shaky legs. He needed to get out of there.

“Barry don’t leave. Let’s talk this through,” Iris pleaded.

“Like how we talked at therapy? After you were mad at me for saving the world from the Speedforce? Claiming I left you? Or how after a day you wanted me completely back to normal, when my brain was scrambled? How about we talk about you throwing yourself into danger, consequences be damned because you know I’ll save you, and I will, every time. It’s never us talking, Iris. It’s you talking and me shoving aside what I feel to appease you.”

He took off his wedding ring and set it on the side table.

“Barry don’t!” Tears were running down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry, Iris, but I have to.” And with that he was gone, nearly knocking into Caitlin. He just needed to get out of there.

He ran home to change into not sweats and then ran to the one place Iris wouldn’t dare go. He ran to Saints and Sinners.

He scanned the bar and found Len in the back booth, alone. He nonchalantly made his way over.

“Didn’t expect Team Flash to release you so soon,” Len drawled.

“They didn’t. I ran,” Barry admitted.

“Oh? Trouble in paradise?” Len asked.

Barry was sure it was meant to be teasing but after what had just happened. “Yes. I, I can’t be with Iris. The Speedforce showed me our relationship is unhealthy and I can’t,” Barry admitted.

Len stopped eating. “Barry. All that talk of potential, sometimes nothing comes of it.”

Barry felt ice around his heart. “No,” he whispered. After all those things he said to Iris he’d have to crawl on his belly and beg forgiveness for her to ever think of taking him back. If Len really had just been teasing him, knowing he wasn’t taken, with no intention to ever follow through, Barry couldn’t handle it.

“Barry, hey kid! Look at me! Breathe, focus on me. That’s okay, good. There, just breathe. It’s okay.”

They sat there, just breathing, for several minutes.

“Let me finish. All that talk of potential, sometimes things never come of it. But sometimes, life will give you a second chance to realize it. Most people will pass up those chances for what is familiar and safe. But if you want to test that potential. Then I’m not going to let my second chance pass me by,” Len said. His voice was rough. Like he was holding in emotions.

“Yes,” Barry said without hesitation. “All my life I’ve done what other people wanted. I’m going to do what I want.”

“This won’t be easy,” Len reminded him. “I plan on rebuilding the Rogues.”

“Just don’t make plans in front of me,” Barry said with a surprised laugh.

“I think I can do that,” Len said with his signature smirk.

“Hey, Len? I, I love you. Or, I think I do. I mean I know I could love you. I could love us, as a couple,” Barry said turning red. “How are you, Len?”

“Hey, Barry? I could love us together too. And together, nothing could stop us. So, you know? I’m good, and I think I love you too.”