„I‘m fine“, Barry grumbled for the twentieth time that day. It made Leo even more sure that he was not, in fact, fine.
„Sounds awfully much like you‘re trying to convince yourself there“, he remarked, raising one eyebrow. Barry eyed him and then shrugged, turning back to whatever it was he currently pretended to be interested in.
“I am though”, he insisted, turning his back towards Leo as if he was a pouty teenager. Leo closed his eyes for a moment before stepping closer and carefully touching Barry’s arm.
“I know something that might help.”
“I already told you, Leo, I’m fine.” Barry’s voice had that irritated tinge that it always had these days, but it was also dangerously close to being pissed off. “I told you. I don’t want to talk, I don’t need your therapy blabla. I’m fine. I’m not going on your couch to tell you sob stories about my life. Nor on anyone else’s, for that matter.”
So there was something he knew needed a good talking about, then.
“Not what I was thinking about. I was thinking more… unconventional. To make you relax, and maybe just… let go for a while. You’re much too tense, Barry. And yes, everyone needs a break, even you. You more than most, at this point.”
Barry closed his mouth again where he’d already had it opened, ready to protest, and seemed to deflate a little. “what’s this thing you were thinking of, then? Getting me drunk won’t work without Cisco’s little magic trick.”
“Also not what I was thinking. Do you trust me?”
Barry looked at him with a face that clearly read would I ever trust a Snart?, but then he shrugged and nodded. “I guess. You’re alright.”
Not the high praise he was getting from others, but still good enough for now. “Alright then. Let’s go.”
“Go where?” Immediately, Barry sounded panicked again and pulled back, causing Leo to roll his eyes.
“I’ll show you. No need to stress. I’ll take you home, first, and then I’ll help you relax. You just don’t worry and let it happen, you’ll be fine. I’ll take care of you, Barry. I promise.”
Barry looked at him with wide eyes, open and almost desperate, as if he couldn’t fathom that someone would just want to take care of him without any second thoughts. Clearly, he was in dire need of some good relaxing care session.
Leo easily slid his hand into Barry’s and gave it a squeeze before leading him out of the Cortex and STAR Labs, towards his motorcycle. Mick had grumpily shoved it at him and mumbled that it had been his Snart’s, so Leo should have it. He’d felt guilty for about a second, but then he’d realised that given the chance, he’d also love to give Mick some of Mickey’s old things. So now he drove it whenever he could, and he had to leave it to this Earth’s Snart – he truly had style. The bike was just perfect, and Leo loved it.
Now, he had Barry climb onto the back while he sat down on it after handing Barry the spare helmet and then let it come to life, revving the engine a few times before taking off towards Barry’s apartment. The ride was silent, as was the trip up to the apartment. Barry still didn’t speak as they went about taking off their shoes and jackets, even though he clearly was curious what Leo had planned for him. So of course, Leo gave him a big smile and didn’t tell him anything until he’d rummaged through Barry’s kitchen cupboards to find some tea to brew for him for later.
“Alright. I want you to strip down now. You can keep your underwear if you feel more comfortable, and then I want you to lay down on your bed on your front. Make yourself comfortable, put a pillow under your head if you want to. I will be with you shortly.”
Barry eyed him curiously for a moment, then nodded and shuffled off, suddenly looking too tired to do any protesting or further asking. He looked as if his mind was screaming for some rest, for some relief from the weight that he constantly had to carry, and Leo very much intended to give it to him.
Leo gave him a few minutes of headstart, then went after him, carefully placing his steps so they’d sound through the apartment, alerting Barry of the fact that he was getting closer. He didn’t knock when he reached the bedroom door, but he did let his steps fall even heavier as he pushed it open and entered the bedroom.
And there he was, spread out on the bed like an offering, in nothing but his boxers, with a pillow shoved under his head and his arms around it. His head was turned away from Leo, allowing him to look out of the window. Leo could tell from the tension in his body that he’d noticed that Leo had walked in, but he didn’t turn to acknowledge him. Well, Leo didn’t mind that, really.
“Alright, Barry. Here’s the thing. I’m going to help you relax and make you feel good, but if at any point you want to stop, you say iceberg and I stop, alright? No questions asked.”
“So… like a safeword then, of a sort?”
“Not like a safeword. It is a safeword for you. Okay?”
Barry took a deep breath, then nodded his assent. “Okay.”
Leo allowed himself a soft smile and sat on the edge of the bed, next to Barry. He carefully pulled off his gloves and set them down to one side, then rubbed his hands against one another to warm them up a little. He had somehow been cursed with perpetually cold hands, after all.
And then, he got in position and rested his hands on Barry’s clothed butt, to give him an indication of what this would be about.
Barry sighed and gave a little shrug, almost as if trying to downplay whatever was about to happen, to make Leo see outright that it wouldn’t help. But then he let his shoulders fall down again and buried himself deeper into his pillow. “Ready.”
Smiling, Leo drew back his hand then, and after just a moment of waiting, just to peak Barry’s curiosity, let it come down, causing Barry to startle.
“Shh. Relax. It’ll help. Just relax and let it happen. I won’t hurt you. Relax… relax, Barry.” With every time he told Barry to relax, he let his hand come down again. And while Barry looked ready to jump out of the bed and run away at first, he settled down again really soon, seemingly accepting the fact that he would get his ass spanked now.
“Don’t see how this is gonna relax me...” he protested, but Leo could hear that it was only half-heartedly. So he didn’t take that as any indication to stop, but instead to let his hand come down a little harder.
“It will, just you believe me. Just close your eyes and let it happen. Feel it, Barry. Feel the rhythm of it, feel the weight of my hand every time it comes down. And every time it goes back up, it will take some of the tension with it, some of the weight you’re carrying. Every time, with every strike you will get a little lighter, and some of the weight will lift off you. Just feel it, just let it happen. Close your eyes and think of nothing but the slaps. Think of nothing else, and feel free to pass on some weight, some tension into my hand when it leaves. Push it away from you, let go of it, and concentrate on the feeling that remains, the warmth that will spread to you from my touch. It will envelope you like a blanket, cozy and warm and safe and just the right amount of weight, not to push you down and crush you, but to keep you safe and sound, to protect you from anything that would harm you. Just let it happen, Barry. Just feel. Just feel.”
He could tell that Barry was listening to him, that he was drifting down into subspace by the way his body already started to relax, how his head lolled to the side almost uncontrolled, leaving Barry to look at Leo through heavy eyelids, almost lazily regarding him as he went on to spank his ass rhythmically, to make sure to keep the pressure even as he let his hand come down on Barry’s ass again and again and again.
Barry was clearly drifting, but Leo could tell that he hadn’t let go yet completely. There were things still bothering him, and Leo knew he had to go on with the spanking to draw them out, to push Barry to his breaking point so he could tear down the wall that he’d build around himself, a wall to keep out all emotions, and to keep all of his problems bottled up. He knew that Barry hadn’t spoken about his emotional turmoils to anyone, but clearly, he was very much in need of speaking about it, given the way he had been reacting the past days.
So he kept on spanking him, taking in the little gasps and jerks that Barry made, keeping an close eye on whether he still looked comfortable. He did, even though his eyes were closed now, and his twitches were getting a little more urgent and distressed.
“I feel so alone”, he suddenly whispered, then pressed his lips close together in what clearly was a suppressed sob.
“No one… no one gets me, no one understands what I go through...” This time a little hitch of a sob escaped before Barry could catch it, but he kept his eyes screwed closed, as if needing to shut out the outside world to be able to speak his mind.
Leo decided that he needed to let him speak uninterrupted lest he’d make him swallow down the rest of his confession, so he kept quiet, simply keeping up his rhythm and making sure to soundly swat Barry’s ass every time.
“Just because I heal on the outside… they don’t realise that the pain is in my mind as well...”
“They don’t… understand what it’s like...”
“Ralph...I couldn’t do anything, Leo. I was so helpless… so helpless.” The last word came out with a whine and another little sob, and then it was as if a dam had been broken. Barry turned his head to bury it into the pillow as he gave himself over to his emotions and cried, ugly and loudly and probably in a way that would leave his pillow covered in tears and snot, but Leo knew it didn’t matter. He’d help him clean up after, the important thing was that he was finally letting all his pain out, and his emotions in.
He kept on spanking him, but reached out and started stroking his back with his free hand.
“That’s good, Barry. That’s good. Just let it all out. Let the pain out, so the wounds can heal. Let the pain out so you can feel again and see more clearly. Cry it all out, clear the air. It’s alright to feel down, to be sad and helpless. It’s okay to grieve your friend, Barry. You’re doing so good. And believe me, you’re not alone. All your friends are there for you, even if they can’t share every experience you have. They are there for you, and they will want to help.” He kept on stroking Barry’s back as he continued to cry, and slowly let the spankings taper out, getting softer and softer until he was more or less petting Barry’s ass only. Barry hardly seemed to acknowledge it, simply continuing to cry into the pillow and letting all his pent-up stress finally release. And for his part, Leo was content to sit next to him for the moment and gently rub his back, just show him that he was there for him, even if he could only start to grasp the experiences and the pain that Barry must have gone through in the past weeks alone. He wondered if he should get up and get Barry a glass of water, but then he figured that it would be best if he stayed where he was, where he could take care of Barry once he came down from his subspace-high of emotions.
He didn’t really know how long it was until he heard and felt Barry’s sobs slowly subsiding, but he patiently sat there and stroked Barry’s back, content to be there and let Barry feel and make sure that he would be alright after the emotional outburst that he had triggered.
Eventually, Barry’s sobs died down to some sniffling and Barry turned his head again, away from Leo, as if he was ashamed of what he’d done. Well, that just wouldn’t do.
“There ou are… I hope you’re feeling at least a little lighter now?” he probed, keeping his voice calm and gentle so as not to spook Barry in his fragile state of mine.
What he got in response was a wet sounding laugh, and another sniffle. “A lot lighter, actually”, Barry told him, and then carefully shifted just enough so he could turn his head to look at Len. “A lot lighter… Thank you, Leo.”
“See? I told you I knew a method to put you more at ease”, he replied and gently carded his hands through Barry’s hair, marveling at the soft smile that got him. “Do you want to talk about anything that just happened there?” he asked him and watched Barry’s focus go inside again, working through the things he’d felt and relived to see if anything needed further inspection, and if he was open to it.
“Can I… tell you about Ralph?” he croaked, then gave a little cough, clearly suddenly suffering from a dry throat.
“Of course, Barry. How about this? I’ll go and get you something to drink while you move over a little, and then, if you want to, I can hold you while you tell me about Ralph?”
“Like… like cuddling?”
“Yeah, like cuddling”, Leo told him with a smile, and waited until Barry had nodded before standing and quickly striding into the kitchen to pick up a glass of water and some of the tea that had cooled down to a perfect drinking temperature.
Armed with his drinks he walked back into the bedroom, where Barry had indeed moved to the side, and had even gone so far to toss the tear-soiled pillow onto the floor and had positioned two new ones in the bed for them to use. Leo handed Barry the mug with a smile and waited until he’d drunk his fill and put it aside before climbing into the bed and pulling Barry against his chest, going right back to carding his fingers through his hair.
“So… tell me about Ralph?”