Chapter 1: Intro
"Things are back to how they should be. Well, for me, anyways."
Eobard has told him this, and left Barry to stumble home, fear and anticipation leading him. What did he do? How much had changed? He made it to the front step, adjusting his collared shirt as he went to knock. His worry melted as iris opened the door.
"Barry, what happened? Are you ok?"
"I'm-I'm fine, I just-I just went for a run." Barry replies, off kilter. Iris softened, opening the door for him to make his way inside. The room was the same, iris was the same.
"Where are Joe and Wally?" Barry asked, already back to worrying.
"Dad got called in, and you just missed Wally, he went upstairs maybe twenty minutes ago? I was just finishing my dishes before heading home, but we could order a pizza or something if you want? Eddie will probably be working with Dad on this case pretty late, anyways." She said it so casually. Eddie was alive.
"Wow, Eddie, that's-that's great." He has been waiting to find everything fallen apart, but the only change so far, was an old friend back to life.
"No, no that's fine, I actually need to check back in at star labs." Barry deflected. He couldn't just sit around, he had to know.
"This late?" Iris frowned.
"Is everything ok? You're not having any more... residual effects?" She asked carefully.
"Effects?" Barry asked.
"From the lightning. It just seems like you spend a lot of time with your doctors, more and more all the time. I just worry about you." She placed a comforting hand over his, but Barry was anything but comforted. Did she not know?
"I-they're my friends." Barry replies, as safely as he could. She smiled and nodded.
"Well at least let me drive you there. You shouldn't have to walk." She definitely didn't know.
"Great." Barry replied, following her out quietly. He got into the passenger side of her car, all nerves and worry.
"Are you sure you're ok? You seem off."
"Fine, really, just ready to, you know, hang with the friends." He laughed awkwardly.
"Well, when you find time for your Best friend, give me a call." She smiled. The rest of the ride was quiet, but iris had dropped the questions. When she parked outside of the labs, Barry was quick to get out of the car, and wave her off. The second she was out of sight, he called on the speed force and ran into the cortex. Caitlin and Cisco held down the loose papers, barely paying his entrance any mind. So at least they knew.
"Hey, guys." Barry said awkwardly.
"Hey man, how'd the interview go?" Cisco asked casually, pulling another twizzler out to gnaw on. Interview. What interview?
"Good." Barry replies, instead of voicing his questions.
"We should celebrate." Caitlin smiles as she brings in a small beaker of blue liquid.
"My latest attempt?" She offers it to Barry.
"I-uhm, maybe not tonight." Barry declines, feeling a twinge if guilt.
"Boo." Cisco replies, tossing a crumpled paper his way.
"Come on man, it's not everyday you get an opportunity like this! And if you happen to be able to get me and Caitlin tickets, you know, I wouldn't complain." Cisco shrugs. Tickets?
"Don't listen to him Barry. I know you're nervous, but if you get this chance I know you'll do great."
"Yeah, loosen up man! So come on, drinks?" Cisco coaxed.
"No, I shouldn't, I Uh, incase they call." Barry lied. He didn't know who would be calling, but that wasn't important right now.
"Fine. Spoil sport. You want to run a patrol? I can fire this bad boy up, save a few old ladies, thwart some bank robbers before we call it a night?" Cisco offers, gesturing to the main computer with his half eaten twizzler. Barry nodded with a smile. That actually sounded really nice.
As Barry ran through the city, he noticed small changes. A bakery that was now a flower shop, apartment buildings that had come up last year, now unfinished and behind schedule. He thought about the changes, about the things he would have to adjust to, since changing them back seemed so unlikely.
After stopping three mugging and a car wreck, he finally decided his best source of information would be his phone, and the internet. With that in mind, he said his goodnights to Caitlin and Cisco over the coms, before heading towards his apartment. Only, did he have an apartment in this timeline? He stopped outside the building awkwardly before spotting his window on the second floor. Yeah, that was his. He could see the small cactus with sunglasses that Cisco had bought him as a housewarming present. He sighed in relief before phasing his way inside. The apartment lay out was much the same, and most of the pictures were similar. They still had small changes, where they were posed differently, or wearing something different than in the pictures from his timeline. But there was someone new in a few of them. James, his mind supplied helpfully. Whoever James was, he was in pictures dating all the way to high school.
Barry flopped on the couch, and began searching through his phone. Weird. A lot of his contacts were missing. The only contacts he had from the police station were Joe and Eddie. Barry pulled up his own Facebook page, and stopped, startled. He wasn't CSI. According to this, he was a music technician. Wait, like a roadie? That was still a thing? He continued scrolling through, finding pictures of him and James connecting stage speakers and tuning amplifiers. Apparently they've done quite a few small shows since high school. Barry clicked into James' Facebook page, finding a bombardment of exited posts about their interview to set up for a band called winter storm. Barry flipped over to his music, surprised to find it filled mostly by songs from this band. So, the interview was really a big deal. But Barry has no idea how to do any of this. Maybe as time went on, he'd remember more, but would he forget everything from his timeline, just like he did in flashpoint? Barry sighed, closing his phone, and his eyes. It was a lot. But he was in his own home, and he could finally rest.
Barry dreamt of melodies and mosh pits; of reckless weekend drives to concerts ten hours away. He dreamt of being that sad, angry kid, of Iris giving him a burnt CD when winter storm was just starting out. He dreamt of finally going with Iris to one of the last concerts winter storm ever played in central, of meeting James there. He dreamt these memories and soaked them in, and by the time he woke up-half falling off his couch-he was beginning to understand this life a little bit better.
After waking up and getting ready, Barry was at a loss again. What was he suppose to do? In his timeline, he'd be late for work at the CCPD right now; but here... Barry's phone rang, startling him out of his trance.
"Barry we got the gig." James tells him, before Barry even says hello.
"That's-that's awesome. So cool." Barry cringed at himself, and his lack of convincing delivery.
"Damn straight it is! I'm going to send you the files they sent over, alright? Man, I can't believe this!" James kept talking, but Barry just felt a sinking in his chest. How was he going to pull this off? He had no idea what he was suppose to do.
"And there's something else man." James says seriously.
"The shows not going to be in Star city anymore. They're moving it to central." James' excitement seeps through his voice, but he waits for Barry's response.
"Wait, but, Winter Storm hasn't played in Central for the last five years." Barry found himself responding, but he wasn't sure where the words came from.
"Exciting times, man. I'll pick you up Thursday around three. Should give us plenty of time to grab something to eat first, what with your freaky appetite lately."
"Sure, I'll see you then." Barry hung up the phone, feeling somewhat unsettled. Sure, there was a lot he would just have to get use to. And clearly some part of him knew all about this timeline. He just hoped it was enough of him to do his job well.
Barry stares at the search bar for a minute, before finally typing it in. Nothing on the flash. No flash day, no sightings, nothing. Some pictures on a red blur, and one very vocal anonymous blog about this blur. Nothing more. Barry groaned. This kind of research was really not his forte. This is more Felicity's territory. As soon as the thought hit him, Barry tossed on his flash suit and started running to Star City. But would Felicity even be there? Would their headquarters still be where Barry remembered? Is the Arrow even a vigilante here? Barry burst into the Arrow team's headquarters, heaving a big sigh as he saw Felicity sitting at the computer. She whiled around startled, and Barry almost started laughing from the relief.
"You're still here! Man Felicity, I have so much I want to tell you!" Barry began pacing the floor, pulling his hood down as he talked.
"I really messed up. I mean, things seem ok, but everything's so different! I'm not a CSI, no one knows who I am, and I don't even know how to start to make sense of it all!" Barry huffed out. He glanced at Felicity, who was just staring back, a little confused.
"Sorry, this is going to sound strange." Barry started, gauging her reaction.
"So I went back in time to save my mom, and ended up creating this whole other timeline where she was alive, and I had this happy normal childhood, but I was losing my powers, and so many people were dead, I watched Wally die, and I was running out of time to decide, so I ran back again, and tried to stop myself from saving my mom, so I could come home to my own timeline, but when I got here-"
"Woah woah woah ok, hang on." Felicity interrupted, finally catching up. Barry looked up at her, as she thought it through.
"How did you get in here?" She finally settles on.
"I-what? I ran." Barry half asked.
"You ran, ok. And you know me?"
"I-of course I do. We met before I was even the flash. But, oh." They met when Barry was a CSI, chasing the impossible. But in this timeline Barry Allen didn't chase the impossible. He wasn't CSI. He slumped into one of the other computer chairs.
"Oh my god, you have no idea who I am. I am so sorry." Barry almost blushed. He just burst into their secret hide out...
"It's ok!" Felicity replies immediately.
"This is... weird. But I can handle weird." She gave a small smile, but was clearly still weary.
"Why don't we start over. I'm Felicity." She held her hand out and Barry shakes it weakly.
"Barry Allen; and well, the flash." Barry replied, gesturing to the outfit. This was going to be a long day.
"Ok Barry, why don't you start at the beginning." And he did. He told her who he was, and how they met, about the explosion at star labs, and his coma. He told her everything up until he went back in time, right up until he called on the speed force to dodge an arrow flying by him.
"Oliver! It's ok! I'm a friend!" He tried to reason.
"Really, it's ok, we're just talking!" Felicity defended. The Arrow stalked towards them, bow drawn and pointed at Barry.
"Who are you?" Oliver asked in his scary Arrow voice.
"I, oh man, I literally just went over this." Barry sighed.
"Oliver, calm down. I'll explain everything later, just put the bow down." Oliver relaxed his aim, but kept his bow drawn. Felicity sighed.
"Ok. Now, Barry, can we help you?" She asked, still in mediation mode. Barry huffed.
"I don't know. I just can't figure it all out, everything's so different." Barry almost shrunk in on himself, running his hands over his face.
"Ok, well maybe we should work backwards. We never met because you have a different job, right? Well let's think the same way about the flash. How did the world first hear about the flash and meta humans?" She asks.
"The Rogues." Barry mumbles back, thinking it through.
"May I?" Barry asked, gesturing to the computer.
"No." Oliver says, at the same time as Felicity gestures to it welcomingly.
"Ollie." Felicity sighs. Barry hesitates, looking between the two before Oliver sighs in defeat, and steps back, allowing Felicity to take point.
"Ok," Barry wheels his chair next to Felicity, typing across the familiar set up.
Leonard Snart. Nothing. Not even a birth certificate. Barry hesitates. Lisa Snart. Student of Sorbonne University in France? Mick Rory. Serving life sentence in Iron Heights for multiple homocides and arsons, 15 years ago. The same year Barry's mother was murdered. The same year Barry disrupted the timeline.
"So Mick Rory goes to prison, Lisa goes to college, and the Rogues aren't here to reveal meta humans to the world." Barry summarizes, clicking through the searches.
"But even if Captain Cold isn't Captain Cold here, he should still have some kind of record."
"I can keep digging, if you want." Felicity offers.
"I'd appreciate it. I'm working this weekend, but we should catch up sometime." He smiles are her.
"I'll give you a call. It was nice meeting you Barry Allen." She smiles, and Barry takes that as his que to speed off. He's sure Oliver's already starting up with the whole "not trusting him" speech, but at least he has someone to talk to.
Barry speeds into star labs, and feels time slow with a painful, sinking fear at the sight before him.
Caitlin was showing off a sort of presentation of all the flash's test results. His speed, his blood tests, healing factors, and calorie intakes.
"Oh, Barry. You're just in time!" Caitlin smiled.
"Care to go for a test run?" Dr Wells asks, turning his wheel chair to face him.
Anyone know how to spell que? Is that right? It doesn't look right.
Cue! God thank you, that was figuratively driving me crazy. I knew there would be plenty of spelling grammar issues, but that literally stopped me in my tracks writing. Cue.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Dr Wells." Barry heard himself say.
"I didn't think you'd be in today." Barry didn't think it sounded believable, but he was proud of himself either way.
"Of course. We were just going over your monthly results." Wells watched Barry carefully.
"So, shall we go to the treadmill?" He asks, still viperous as always.
"Now?-Now's, not a great time. I just stopped by to tell Caitlin that I got the job." Barry doesn't actually know how he's stringing these words together, but every part of him is screaming to run.
"Oh Barry that's great!" Caitlin, oblivious to the tension, crosses the room to give Barry a hug. Barry can hardly notice as he and Wells are still eye to eye.
"I should go." Barry says, before carefully detangling from Caitlin and speeding out the room.
What was Wells-Eobard-doing here? It didn't make sense. The Rogues didn't have anything to do with catching Eobard. Why was he there? Does he know? Is this the same Eobard that he saw last time? Barry just managed to phase into his apartment before nearly hyperventilating. This didn't make any sense. Barry almost jumped out his skin when his phone started ringing. James. Great.
"Hey James, it's not a great time," Barry said, sighing into the phone.
"Come on man, it's never a good time. Did you look through the files I sent over?"
"Yes?" Barry cringed
"Sorry, no, it's been a really weird day."
"Come on man, this our dream, right? You can slack off next time we set up for Death Wizard or something, but this is Winter Storm. Get it together, we got this!"
"You're right, sorry, I'll start going through it now." Barry promised.
"Damn straight. I'll see you Thursday, right?"
"Yeah, see you then, thanks." After hanging up, Barry pulled up the email on his laptop. Wow. That's a lot of diagrams. The longer Barry studied them, the more he relaxed into the distraction.
Barry woke up the next morning, on his couch again, laptop still open on the table. He groaned, sitting up to rub his eyes. Well he studied the material enough to feel a bit more confident for tomorrow, but that was hardly the biggest issue for him right now. Maybe he could get by with avoiding the place-and Dr Wells-until Monday. He contemplated calling Felicity, but thought better of it. He had already imposed so much, and she was helping enough by looking into the rogues. After getting ready, he finally decided to go for coffee before worrying about it any more.
Jitters was pretty packed for a late Wednesday morning, but Barry found the humming of the crowd reassuring. He waited through the line, ordered his usual caramel macchiato, and sat at one of the few open tables. It wasn't long before two cups were placed on the table and Iris slid in the seat across from him.
"Well this is a surprise." She smiled at him. Barry glanced over her apron, and the manager pin on it. Oh.
"Yeah, I was just. In the area." Barry replied. He should probably worry that these lies came so easily, but honestly he was just thankful.
"Well I'm glad you stopped by, even if I am a little mad at you." She shrugged.
"Wait, mad at me?" Barry asked, brow furrowed.
"I had to find out that you got the job from James?" She shook her head.
"I know you're probably over worked and stressed, but you should have called."
"Right, sorry, it's just been a lot to take in." Barry half laughed, at the truth of it.
"I'm really happy for you, and just so you know I'm going to be in the audience, so if Winter Storm starts having technical difficulties, I'll know who to blame." She teases.
"Thanks, Iris, that actually means a lot." Barry smiled. Maybe she didn't know his secret in this timeline, and maybe he didn't know enough about it, but he knew Iris would be there for him. She really was his best friend.
"But enough about me, what's going on in your world?" Barry asked, hoping to lean into the familiarity of their conversations. Iris makes a dramatic humming noise from behind her coffee.
"Not as much as you'd think. On the bright side, my blog is getting a lot of new content, even if no one sees it." She sighs.
"Your blog." Barry repeats.
"The one about the blur."
"God, you don't have to say it like that. I know it's real, and if you or Eddie bothered to read my blog, you'd believe it too." Iris huffed, but she wasn't mad. This Iris was use to no one reading her work. Barry felt the guilt piling up.
"I-I'll read it." He promises. Really, he's somehow managed to keep this secret from iris for years, it was the least he could do.
"It's fine, Barry, I'm just teasing. Besides, you have plenty on your plate right now." She shrugs.
"Yeah, but still. I'll find the time." Barry places his hand over hers comfortingly, and she smiles.
"Well thank you." She smiles, squeezing his hand a little.
"I should get back to work, though."
"Alright, thanks Iris." Barry finished his coffee, feeling a bit more at ease. This timeline was very different, but he'd be able to adjust; just as soon as he got rid of Eobard.
Barry spent the rest of the day walking around town, soaking up the differences, and avoiding star labs. Everything seemed more or less the same. The areas west of third street seemed a bit worse off, but Barry wasn't sure if he was remembering the area correctly to begin with. It was definitely one of his less traveled neighborhoods. He looped back around towards his apartment building, speeding off once the streets were deserted enough. He kicked off his shoes, and grabbed one of his energy bars from the cabinet by the door. Huh. He stopped mid bite to admire the new furniture. He hadn't noticed it there before, but he was finding himself wishing he had thought of it sooner. He was always so hungry, and those last moments between the door and the kitchen were the worst. He shrugged, and started getting ready for bed. It was still pretty early, but he figured he deserved it, and had a pretty big day to figure out tomorrow.
Ok. We're getting closer.
There was a banging on the door.
"Barry Allen, wake the fuck up! I will break this door down!" Barry snorted himself awake, before stumbling to the door. He opened it and James immediately pushed his way in.
"Goddammit, Barry, get ready for gods sake." James huffed, already pushing his way into Barry's kitchen.
"What time is it?" Barry almost mumbled out.
"Sh! Stop. Go. I'm making coffee, just hurry." James shooed Barry away, and began angrily clanking around his kitchen. Once Barry was safely behind his door, he sped through getting ready. 2:00. They had plenty of time. Barry rolled his eyes.
"I thought you said you'd be here at three?" He asked, stepping back out towards the kitchen.
"Did you read through the files?" James asked, unimpressed.
"Yeah, of course." Barry replied. He was actually feeling pretty confident about it all after going through it so much.
"Good, just making sure you're taking this seriously. You've been distant lately, which I get, but suck it up. This means everything to me, and you, and our friendship." James ranted as he poured two cups out.
"So if you get us fired from this job, I will never forgive you." He shoves one of the cups into Barry's hands.
"Oh, I mean I won't?" Barry cringed.
"Fuck, man, relax, I don't mean Never never, but it will be WAY worse than the time with the friendship bracelet, ok? Now let's go." Barry rolled his eyes, almost as a muscle reaction to James' theatrics, before following him out. The whole drive there James kept quizzing him on ports and cables and all the specifics that Barry had been worried about. Even as they ate their fast food along the way, James kept at it.
"Can we turn on some music?" Barry sighed.
"No. Now for the bass, tell me how the amp set up goes again. -in detail!" James waves a fry at Barry. Somehow Barry managed to answer every question to James' relief. James parked the car, and Barry let out a breath.
"You can thank me later, let's go." When they walked through the doors, they were greeted by a short man in a suit. He walked faster than seemed right for his stature, and looked over the two of them with an air of authority and scrutiny that kept Barry feeling on edge. He would not mess this up.
"Boys, my name is Jeffery Winston, I am the band manager, you will call me sir, or Mr Winston. The band will be passing though the auditorium while you are setting up. Do not speak to them, do not distract them, in fact, don't even look at them. You have your back stage passes for the concert you can gape then. Until that point you'll do your jobs, understood?" Me Winston glared up at them.
"Yes" James replies nervously
"Yes sir." Barry tried offering an awkward smile, but the two were waved off towards the stage.
"Man, so he's intense." Barry huffed at James as the two were left to set up the gear.
"Shorter than I figured from his Wikipedia." James replied with a shrug.
The two sorted through the gear, working for the next few hours in relative silence. So when the doors flew open, and several security guards lead the way in, the noise alone was enough to draw Barry's attention. But behind them... Barry's jaw actually dropped. Was that... Barry locked eyes with Leonard Snart, who gave him an appraising once over, before smirking, and giving him an actual wink. What? No. What the hell was he planning? Barry kept watching as the security team lead Snart and his band across the room and into the back.
"So much for not even looking at them." James snickered.
"I-I, uhm." Barry stammered. That was Leonard Snart. Career Criminal, super villain, Leader of the Rogues, Legend, and... and he wasn't going to remember any of that. Here he was just... a singer? Oh my god. Snart was the lead singer! Barry struggles to pull up the memories from this timeline, trying to make sense of it, but nothing solid was coming through.
"Dude, do not go back there." James scolded. Barry hadn't even realized that he had gotten to his feet.
"No, I know, I won't." Barry replied with a frown. He stared at back where the band had disappeared for a moment longer, before kneeling back down to the set. He worked beside James in complete silence, working on autopilot and obsessing over his thoughts. Heatwave goes to prison, Captain Cold becomes a rockstar, he sends Golden Glider to college, no one finds out about the metas. Barry's hands were starting to shake. He had to go talk to him. But what would he even say? Cold wouldn't remember him. To him, Barry was just some geeky roadie, setting up the stage for him. Someone he'd normally never talk to.
"Dude can you relax?" James almost whispers over to him.
"You can fanboy out later, we're almost done here. Shit, if we're lucky, their guys will let us stay for rehearsal." Barry nodded back, but didn't reply. It was just all so weird. But when their work was done, and they were standing back admiring the stage, Mr. Winston approaches them.
"You two." He pointed at them with a frown.
"Yes? Sir?" James asked, aiming for respect, but probably coming across just the opposite. Mr. Winston's frowned deepened into his brow.
"If you're staying for rehearsal you will sit in the audience. Your back stage passes don't go into effect until the doors open to the public, understood?" Me Winston said it as though it physically pained him.
"Yes sir, thank you." Barry grinned. Mr. Winston shot him a cautious glare, before nodding and taking his place at the other side of the stage. James basically pulled Barry to their seats.
"Any minute now. This is so much better than any other show we've been to. It's like a private concert!" James' excitement bubbles up, but the anticipation Barry felt made it hard to listen to anything else.
When Winter Storm-Winter. Storm. Oh my god it was so obvious-finally took the stage, Barry's heart was pounding. He didn't know what to expect, but he was so on edge, some part of him knowing something would happen. The band, minus Snart, came onto the stage casually, and began tuning their instruments, playing light tunes to themselves. Finally, Snart came onto the stage, adjusting the mic to his height, before tapping it lightly. Then, impossibly, he looked right at Barry.
"If it's alright with all of you," Snart began, his soothing drawl carrying through the sound system and over the auditorium.
"I'd like to start this little rehearsal with a classic."
Ok, before we get to the music, I'm just going to say it: as far as I know right now, these are real songs that I'm claiming were written by Leonard Snart, ok? Some of these were written by women and refer to themselves as queen. So Snart will absolutely be calling himself a queen at some point in this fic. Anyways, I'll put all the song names in the authors notes. Second thing, I must once again apologize for not knowing anything about music or concerts. We're just going for it.
The slow melody started up from the guitarist, and Barry was on the edge of his seat. He felt the music pushing through him in waves; he remembered this. This song, while not nearly his favorite, had been one of the first songs to draw him so strongly to this band.
"Step forward" Snart began singing softly, beautifully.
"and meet a new sunrise,
A coward is shivering inside
Today I'll, I'll be a friend of mine
who swallows, Suffering with smile
I drew a different reality
With unconditional loyalty
Ego hardly can be piqued 'cause I'm selfless" as the beautiful opening broke down, the metal music picked back up, leading Snart to growl into the mic.
"Scale armour belies
One being brings life
Another runs for death" Barry was hardly there anymore; he was back in time, hearing this song for the first time on his burnt cd, clutching his Walkman to his chest late at night. He was watching himself put Winter Storm posters up in his room growing up, planning concert visits and crying over new albums. There on the stage, Snart smiled sadly as his metal screams faded back into melodies.
"No promises I ever give
Don't rely on me and I won't deceive
The beginning or the end you can't tell
When I wave my fin and shake my tail
I grew in different normality
With unblamable morality
Hooks and nets are there for me but I'm skittish..." Barry didn't remember everything, not completely, but it was like some part of him underneath was dying to get out, to experience this moment that Barry had, in this timeline, worked so hard to reach. All he could do was watch the stage with awe, half seeing Leonard Snart singing; and half seeing Len Winters in person.
"I'd say that's as good of a test as any." Len shrugs, after they finish the song. As the band begins to talk amongst themselves, Barry still feels frozen in it all.
"Dude." James nudges his arm lightly.
"Yeah." Barry breathes out. The two sat there for a while longer, until the band finished talking, and left the stage completely. The silence rang around them, and finally James sighed.
"Alright man, let's get something to eat before the show really starts." James stood, patting Barry's shoulder before walking off. Still a little dazed, it took Barry a second to follow. They drove to a big belly burger down the street, and Barry was vaguely aware of ordering himself a couple burgers, and sitting across from James in a booth.
"So?" James asks, before eating a few fries at once.
"I-what?" Barry asked, trying to shake himself back into the moment.
"Come on, man, that was amazing for me, but for you? I mean you've been obsessed with the guy since puberty." He teases.
"I have not been obsessed." Barry defended with a blush, but he was suddenly remembering the poster above his bed in detail. Oh my god. His room at Joes house was Filled with pictures of Leonard Snart. What the hell was this timeline?
"Ok, sure. But still, seeing him up there? And don't think I didn't notice him looking right at you." James baits.
"I-I don't," Barry was actually at a loss. It was like some part of this realization had actually broke his brain a little. After a minute James sighs.
"Can I be honest to the point of kind of being a downer?" James asks bluntly. Barry just nods, confused, but gesturing for him to continue.
"Ever since the, you know, C-O-M-A, you've been really different. I know it was stupid of me to think this job would bring everything back to normal, but this, everything today should mean, you know, more to you, than this." James shrugged sadly.
"James, I, first of all, you can say coma, you don't need to spell it," Barry frowned,
"And second; this does mean everything to me. Being here with you, finally, it's like everything we've worked for since we first met is finally here." Maybe it was the guilt, but somehow it felt like Barry was channeling the real him for this, the him from this timeline. The one that was suppose to be here.
"I know I'm different than I was before the coma, and honestly I'm different than I was even last week. But you've always been a great friend, and I am so proud that we made it. I know I wouldn't be here without you, and I know it means so much to me. I just hope you can still see how much I appreciate it, even with how different I am." Barry had a lot of guilt about lying to the people he loved, in this, and apparently every timeline. But as both timelines worked together to explain this, no part of it was a lie. Barry couldn't remember everything, but James clearly had been a really good friend. Barry was just sad they had never met in the old timeline.
"Ok. Good." James almost sniffed, clearly trying to shift back into nonchalance.
"Well we better get back before the place starts opening up."
Ok I feel like things are going to kind of get rushed through this next bit lol, but im excited so it's happening. Once again, the song is Pisces by Jinjer
I should probably apologize
"Barry!" Iris yelled, pushing through the crowd outside to reach Barry and James.
"Iris! You made it!" Barry smiles, accepting her hug.
"Duh, you didn't think I'd miss this! I can't believe they came back to central. After the last time, I really didn't think I'd ever see it."
"I know, it's weird, right? Especially with the awards happening in Starling anyways, why split it up? But whatever, I'm just trying not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Saved us the drive." James grins back.
"Wait, what?" Barry asked, almost unsure he had misheard them over the crowd. But no, he knew they hadn't played here in years. So why come back now? Snart couldn't actually remember, right? No, no. The Snart from his world was dead. Barry's mother didn't remember dying in a previous timeline, why would anyone else.
"You two better get in there, unless you want to fight through the doors with the rest of us." Iris told them. James and Barry waved her off, and James lead the way to the back entrance. The security nodded as they passed, and Barry felt his nerves reignite instantly. They were going backstage. Barry had dreamed of this moment for so long.
"Boys." Mr Winston forced a smile as he walked over to them.
"Mr Winston." Barry greeted in return.
"There's the room for you just there." He pointed beyond them.
"But, ah, Barry, was it?" He asks, and Barry just nods.
"I'd like a word privately, if you'd follow me." Mr Winston turns, and begins walking away. Barry shrugs at James.
"I guess I'll meet you in there." Barry huffs, before following Mr Winston into a room near the back. Mr Winston was seated as his desk, and gestured for Barry to sit across from him. Somehow, at his desk, Mr Winston seemed bigger, more imposing.
"Before we talk, I'll need you to sign these." Mr Winston explained casually, before laying a couple packets of paper between them. Barry looked between the papers and Mr Winston in confusion.
"What are these?" Barry asks, before picking them up.
"Non-disclosures? A... sexual consent form?!" Barry was pretty sure he was actually dead, or trapped in some really bizarre dream. At either rate, he could barely feel his face through its blush-risen heat.
"I-wow-I don't understand."
"Everything there is standard for anyone who sees any of my talent one on one, the details are non of my concern." Mr Winston assures him.
"One on; wait am I actually going to meet Len Winters?!" Barry gapes. Len Snart, his brain corrects. Wait, no, Leonard Snart. Criminal. Right. Barry takes a shakey breath before signing each, and sliding them over. Mr Winston appraises each, before shuffling them and tucking them into one of his desk drawers.
"What is your sexuality, Mr Allen?" Mr Winston asks, almost bored by Barry's nerves.
"I-uhm." In the old timeline, Barry had never come out as bi. But here, god, everyone in his life knew he was. In fact, most people thought he was lying about being attracted to women too. Everyone already knew.
"Bi, but I prefer men." Barry said aloud. He had never said that, but of course he'd said it here so much it rolled off the tongue with ease.
"Mr. Winters has expressed an interest in you." He said calmly.
"He is a busy man, and none of my talent can afford to have any rumors running around. Speak of it, and we will sue you."
"This is a really weird way to go about this, you do know that?" Barry asked, already standing.
"Mr Allen." Mr Winston said sternly.
"It's fine, I get it, just, trailer that way?" Barry asked, already half out the door. Ok. So maybe Snart did remember, and this was just to get a rise out of the flash. Or, maybe he didn't remember, and Len Winters really was attracted to this Barry, the one who never knew Captain Cold. Barry was almost shaking as he knocked. He wasn't sure which outcome was more nerve racking.
Len Winters opened the door, smiling slightly.
"Barry, was it?" Len asks, stepping back, and gesturing Barry inside. Barry walked up the steps, heart in his throat.
"Yeah, Barry." He held out his hand, and Len shook it with a smirk.
"You look a little star-struck, are you ok?" There was a teasing glimpse in his eyes, but this Leonard has so much more sorrow on his face.
"I-uhm, yeah, sorry. I'm trying to not freak out. I mean not freak out, I just know you probably deal with a lot of crazy fans, and I'm not, you know, crazy, but I am a fan, and talking to you, you know, face to face is really, ah, sorry." Barry stumbles out. Len smiles a little more, stepping back to the counter.
"I'm going to pour myself a drink, can I get you anything?" He offers.
"Sure, yeah, sounds good." God why was he so nervous? This was Snart for gods sake. Len pours out two drinks, before handing one to Barry.
"Been a fan long?" Len asks.
"Uhm. Kind of? Yes. I mean I never really understood music before you. Your band! I mean. I mean I liked musicals, still do, but." Barry took a shakey breath.
"The more I think about it, the more I think your music changed my life." Barry finally settled on, taking a sip of whiskey, and daring a glance up at Len. Len watched him in consideration for a minute.
"Any of it for the better?" Len asks, and Barry actually laughs.
"There are so many things I would have never let myself feel without you." Barry explained honestly. His drink was set next to him, Len leaning on the counter opposite him. Len invited Barry here. Barry signed a god damn sexual consent form! Barry let himself look Len over. He honestly looked gorgeous, but then of course he did. Rock Star, Criminal, Super Villian, Legend, Snart was always gorgeous. And here, in this timeline, Barry could finally admit it, finally do something about it. No one would question it, or judge him, everyone... everyone already knew he wanted this. Barry stepped forward, leaning into Len's space. Len tensed, but didn't pull away. Barry wouldn't lose his nerve now. He gently placed his hands over Len's soft thermal shirt, wetting his lips before leaning in. His heart was pounding in his ears, and as Len met his kiss, Barry couldn't even keep thinking about it all. White-hot passion and heat, and god, Barry could get lost in this forever. Finally. Len moves them forward, until Barry's back is against the wall, and Len is grinding into him. Oh fuck, this was really happening.
"Tired of the small talk already?" Snart nearly growls in his ear. Barry laughs airy and high off it all.
"Mmh, I could listen to you all day, but at some point-ah!" Barry stopped to catch his breath as Len kept kissing and biting and grinding; fuck!
"At some point I thought I'd lose my nerve," Barry continues, though he's much more interested in whatever Len's doing.
"Well then I suppose I should thank you for speeding things up." Len almost teased; wait, was that a pun? No, stupid, of course not.
"Oh god," Barry moaned. Why hadn't they done this sooner? So many years of tension; wait no, that wasn't here.
"While I'd love to take this as far as we can, Barry. I'm afraid you'll have to come back after the show for that." Len tells him, slowing down and pulling away just a fraction. Barry tried to get his brain to catch up.
"But you invited me here." Barry almost asks, leaning his head back against the wall to catch his breath.
"Hm? Oh right. I was going to ask you about the amp voltage." Len shrugged.
"The-wait." Barry pushes Len's shoulders back a bit to look at him.
"But your manager had me sign a sexual consent form! Like an actual form." Barry was a little dumb struck.
"Jeff?" Len scoffed.
"Of course he'd jump to that. At any rate, Barry, I'm afraid I'm due on stage soon, and still have some preparing to do." Len looked Barry over carefully.
"The offer to meet me here after the show still stands." He offers softly.
"I-I'd like that." Barry was half mortified, but managed a small nod.
Beggar's dance by Jinjer, the mission (m is for milla mix) by Puscifer
Reality crashed in after Len lead him out, and Barry trudged to the room backstage. He just kissed Len Winters completely unprovoked. Snart! Leonard Snart! Captain Cold! Evil, Criminal, Legend, Hero... no, no, just a rock star. A fucking rock star! And Barry-Nobody-Allen just kissed him. Somewhere in this internal rant, Barry stumbles into the room, leaning against the door behind him.
"Barry? Are you ok?" James asks, standing to reach out a supportive hand.
"I kissed him." Barry says, still absorbing the fact himself.
"Ew, Winston?" James asks.
"Wha-God, no! Len Winters!" Barry defends, trying to keep his voice down. James jaw almost drops.
"I actually did. He wants me to meet him back at his trailer after the show." Barry's heart was pounding.
"Holy. Fuck. You're serious?" James is starting to look actually giddy. Barry just kind of looks up at him bewildered.
"I shouldn't." Barry sighs, already feeling the doubt and shame rise up. Snart was a criminal, a murderer, he kidnapped Barry's friends, and he was older, and a man, and... and none of that mattered. Especially not in this timeline. But Barry still felt it.
"I think. I might actually slap you." James replies considerately.
"What?" Barry asked, brow furrowed.
"You're so goddamn stupid. You meet the man you've been obsessing over for as long as I've known you, seduce him, and than what? You're not going to go through with it? I'm sorry, but from where I'm standing, this is the best day of either of our lives, and you need to stop whatever cloud of worry you've been in since the coma, and seize the fuck out of this day." James was actually decent at pep talks. But.. that wasn't really the issue. Everything else aside, This Barry wasn't the one who had worked so hard for this. He just took over this life and ended up using it to work out his own unhealthy feelings for the man. Everything about this situation made him crawl with guilt. Not exactly the best conditions to have a one night stand with anyone, no matter how bad you want them.
"I don't know. Maybe I just need some time to process." Barry sighed. James just rolled his eyes.
"Ok, fine. You process, I'll enjoy the show."
"It's starting?" Barry asked, nearly jumping.
"I meant the show of your pointless internal struggle about sleeping with your celebrity crush." James laughed.
"But we should probably get out there so we don't miss the opening band." James shrugged.
"I'll pass, just let me process." Barry whined.
"If you let me go out there alone, I'll be forced to find Iris and tell her everything." He shrugs.
"Fine! God, you're evil." Barry huffs out. The two leave the back area, past the security and into the general crowd. Eventually the opening band made it out, but it wasn't really Barry's kind of music. Where Winterstorm encompassed some aspect of so many different genres, this band didn't seem to know what genre it even was. Maybe it was biased, but it just didn't click for him. Instead of paying attention to them, Barry found himself scanning over the crowd to look for Iris. She wouldn't be in the VIP section with them, which made it a lot harder. But by the time the band was on their last song, he managed to make eye contact with Iris from across the auditorium. He waved and she gave him a grin and a thumbs up. When Barry turned back to the stage, Winter Storm was walking out.
"Thank you, Central City!" Len smiles into the microphone.
"It has been far too long, but I can honestly say, it's good to be back. To those of you who planned to be in Starling for this, well I thank you for baring with us. Now, there's a rumor online about a certain opening song of mine being good luck." Snart looks over the cheering audience, stopping once his eyes land on Barry.
"I hope you all enjoy, Beggar's dance." Len turns back to his band, making some quick hand motions before the music starts up.
"We do what we have been training to,
Hopeless beggar's dance,
To this beautific flute.
If there's Lord up there, he's just a guest
Under this dome of ignorance!
Our boat is called
Who's in front of us
We cut them deep
Yet untold, still unheard
We cherished lives to the underworld
King of everything
King of everything!
King of everything,
Who's your king of everything?"
Len sings, and saunters across the stage. Barry's heart is pounding. Who knew Snart could sing so beautifully? As they finish the song, Snart actually looks happy, for a moment. The crowd is so deafening, and Barry can't take his eyes off the stage; off of Len.
Len takes a sip from a water bottle before nodding to his band to start the next song. The basest steps up to the second mic, and before they play the first note, Barry knows the song.
"What do you know?" The basest begins to ask, laying down the background.
"The birds and the bees they are wise to the lies
So they took to the trees and took to the skies
On top of the chain and safe from the rain" Len's looking right at Barry again, and he knows all Len could see from him is pure awe.
"What'cha know about the ways on the underside?"
"What do you know?"
"Bought a hot shot gat from a north end guinea" Len wasn't looking at him anymore, but Barry could see the wheels turning, like the old Snart.
"Cause they're hip to the bull and hip to the lies;
Ante up with your ass cause you ain't got a penny,
What'cha know about the ways of the underside?" Snart paced the stage as he sung, and Barry couldn't help feel this song brought more of his Captain Cold out. He was still the same man, somehow. All Barry could do was watch in awe throughout the rest of the show. When they had played several more songs, and taken their bow, Snart grinned.
"Thank you, Central City! You always know how to make a man feel right at home." He locked eyes with Barry, tilted his head towards the back in invitation. Barry practically jumped, pushing his way through the crowd.
"Go get him tiger!" James laughed, but Barry didn't feel he had time to bother replying.
When he got backstage, he bee-lined for Snart's trailer, breezing past security. But once at the door, he hesitated. Was this really what he wanted? Yes, clearly, but what about the Barry that was suppose to be here? Would he be ok with Barry running in to be with his Villain? With a shakey hand, Barry knocked on the trailer door.
I'm trying not to be too impatient as I write this, but holy shit I want to write the other characters in.... but these things take time. Just gotta keep writing!
"Barry." Len smiled, as he let Barry in past him.
"Len-can I call you Len? Is that ok?" Barry asked awkwardly. It was better then Mr Winters, or Snart, or Cold...
"Of course, Barry. How did you like the show?" Something about Len's familiar drawl was so powerful in that moment. Maybe it was because Barry was so overwhelmed by it all, maybe it was because Len had died, almost a year ago. Barry let out a half-choked laugh, and tried not to let the tears prick at his eyes.
"It was really great. You have a gorgeous voice." Barry told him, all shy energy bouncing through him.
"Yes well, getting to where I am was more chance than anything, I suppose." Len was watching him carefully.
"Are you alright, Barry?" He asks softly. Barry blushes.
"I'm fine! It's just, I mean it's a lot to take in, and I'm pretty hungry, actually. And this-" Barry motioned between them,
"Is kind of a lot."
"You're the one who jumped me, Barry." Len almost laughs.
"I know! And I don't regret it or anything, I just think; I mean I know you probably don't date fans, and probably for good reason, but we don't have to call it a date, or anything, I just; do you want to go out for dinner?" Barry was overly aware that his voice had become something of a squeak by the end, but was trying to play it off. Len smirked at him.
"I'm not the kind of person who can just go out for dinner with an attractive stranger. People will talk."
"Oh. Right. Uhm, we could order in? Or I could pick something up? I just, I mean I eat a lot, and I'm pretty hungry, but I was also kind of hoping we could talk before;" Barry cut himself off. Before he has sex with a rockstar. He could feel himself blushing deeper.
"I'm not expecting anything, Barry. There's no pressure here." Len seemed a little conflicted, and Barry felt a pang of guilt.
"No! I know, you're not like that, I just, I guess I'm in a little over my head." Barry laughed.
"Well that makes two of us, then." Snart smiled softly.
"How about I order something from the steakhouse down the road. If memory serves, they have an excellent cheesecake." Snart sits on the side of his bed, pulling out his phone to look up the menu. Barry sits next to him, close enough to read over his shoulder. Len assures him to pick whatever he wants, and once they order, Len sets his phone to the side.
"So, you wanted to talk?" Len asks curiously. Barry's heart was pounding.
"I, yeah. Did you always want to be a singer?" Barry asked. He couldn't help but wonder if his Snart had ever wanted this life. Len considered the question for a minute before sighing.
"I've given out a lot of interviews over the years, but I'd like to be more honest with you, if you can promise it won't leave this room." Len explained softly.
"Sure, of course, just between us. I mean I did sign a non disclosure," Barry laughs awkwardly.
"Very well. When I was very little, I wanted to play hockey." Len confesses with a smile.
"Wow that is just so typical." Barry laughed.
"How about you; you always want to be stage crew?"
"I-" Barry started, but felt his heart clench.
"I actually wanted to be a scientist, or engineer. I thought I'd either become a CSI, or I'd build something to change the world." Barry kind of scuffed his shoe against the floor.
"So what lead you here?" Snart asks, fully curious.
"Well, you did, I guess. I heard your music, and kind of became obsessed with understanding why it was so beautiful. From a technical standpoint, I mean. Obviously your voice is amazing, but the composition of each piece, the timing of the drops and highs, and rare uses or reverbs, it just kind of became a part of me." Barry shrugs with a small smile.
"So when you said my music changed your life, you really meant it." Len was watching him so carefully, and they were so close sitting next to each other, on Len's bed...
"Doesn't really seem to be for the better from where I'm standing." He continued. Barry frowned, shifting to face Len a little more.
"I still went to college, got my degree. And my foster father is still trying to get me to join the CSI at CCPD. But-" Barry nervously shifted through the memories slowly surfacing.
"A few years ago I was kind of in an accident." Barry started.
"Everyone in my life is always telling me I'm not the same anymore. And I think they're right. I was never really happy, but since my accident, I've been kind of consumed by-" guilt, responsibly, by being the flash.
"By feeling like I have to keep pretending to be who I was. Or to live up to what other people need from me. Being this, loving your music the way I do." Barry wet his lips nervously.
"It brings me back to myself, which is something I didn't have before." In the old timeline.
"Even if no one else sees who I am anymore, I do. So, thank you. Maybe I'm not solving---oh!" Oh my god! Of course Eobard is still here! Barry isn't solving his mother's murder! Joe probably still doesn't believe him! Does Joe even know about the flash?
"Barry?" Len asks cautiously.
"Sorry! I just! I realized something about a-about something I'm working on, but it's-there isn't much I can do right now, so." Barry sat back down next to Len, not even realizing he had stood up.
"Sorry. So, hockey, huh?" Barry laughed, embarrassment piling up.
"Mh, luckily a friend talked some sense into me. Turns out I don't quite have the physique for it" he shrugs.
"Still, ice, winter, seems right up your alley." Barry chuckled.
"Maybe so. But I think I'm a little too competitive anyways." Len shrugged. Barry feigned a gasp.
"You? Never would have guessed." He laughed. Cold being competitive whether in crime or album sales or hockey would not surprise him.
"Careful, you're almost acting comfortable around me." Snart teased. Barry laughed.
"Who would have thought? I'm actually feeling more myself than I have in a long time." He smiled softly. Maybe he and Cold hadn't ever just sat and talked like this, but there was always something between them. Something Barry had been too scared to explore in the old timeline, something he missed out on entirely, after Len died.
"This might shock you, Barry, but the feelings mutual." Len smiled.
"Please, you're an actual rock star, I'm just the nobody tech-guy." Barry almost laughed.
"Don't sell yourself so short. It's been a long time since I could just talk with someone without playing a role." The two looked at each other, and Barry couldn't help but glance at Len's lips. It would be easy to lose himself in this, to put aside the flash, and captain cold, and CSI Barry, and music tech Barry, and rockstar Leonard Snart. It would be easy just to be the two of them, to let the rest go. A knock at the door had Barry jumping out his skin. Len chuckled lightly, before getting up to answer the door. He laid the food out on the small table at the other end of the trailer, gesturing Barry over.
Barry teased Len about his manic eating habits, and Len teased him right back for inhaling his food. When they were done, the two just looked at each other over the table, each trying to figure out where they would go from here. Finally, Len let out a shakey breath.
"There's this gala in Starling this week." Len started.
"Oh, right, some kind of awards?" Barry asked, shuffling his plates and plastic ware into a neater pile.
"I'd like to ask you to be my date."
"Date? Like a date-date; like dating?" Barry asked, trying to clarify.
"If you like. My manager will insist on taking you to our tailors, and it'll be a two hour drive each way. I'm not generally use to having someone with me, but I'd like to see you again." Len explained calmly.
"Y-yeah, yeah ok." Barry replied breathlessly.
"There will be cameras, and people will talk." Len warns.
"I'm not use to fancy things." Barry warned right back.
"I don't want to, you know, embarrass you or anything."
"Don't worry about me, Barry, I know what I want. Do you?"
Barry left with Len's cell number in his phone, and a promise to see each other before tomorrow's show. His heart was pounding and he was a little dazed. An actual date.
"Jesus Christ, about time!" James huffed out as Barry stepped outside.
"James! Hi." Barry replied awkwardly.
"Ok, I want to hear every filthy detail." James tells him as he leads the way to his car.
"What-we didn't-you're not even gay!" Barry sputters out.
"So? I'm being supportive! And what do you mean you didn't? I thought you went to bone him, what the hell have I been waiting out here for then?"
"We had dinner." Barry blushed.
"And you didn't have to wait for me."
"I'm your ride, and your friend, of course I did. And dinner with a rockstar, huh? How was that?" James unlocked his car, and they both piled in.
"Really good. He wants me to be his date at this award thing." Barry grins, almost cradling his phone to his chest. James stops dead in his tracks, turning fully towards Barry.
"Barry. That is a huge deal, you better not be fucking with me." He frowns.
"No, I-I mean I know it's a big deal, a fancy gala, and-"
"No, no, I mean Len Winters has NEVER brought a date to an event. What the hell kind of dinner did you two have?" He gaped.
"We just-we really hit it off." Barry explains with a blush. It was a really big deal. The guilt started to creep in again.
"Goddamn, well when you end up getting married, you better invite me to the wedding." James laughed.
"Please, you'll be the best man for introducing us." Barry laughed softly. It was a joke. Really, maybe it was actually a really big deal, but Barry had tricked his way into this. He knew things about Snart that he shouldn't know. That's why things went so smoothly. It wasn't... god he was horrible. James dropped Barry off at his apartment, and agreed to pick him up at three tomorrow. (Actually three, this time, James.)
Barry trudged into his apartment, and flopped on the couch. What was he doing? He was suppose to be the flash, a hero! Instead he was using that knowledge to seduce his former villain-turned-rock star. It didn't get more selfish than that. He pulled out his phone, hovering over Len's number for a moment before calling.
"Barry." Len answered.
"Len. Hi. Sorry to call," Barry started, but Len just laughed.
"If I didn't want you to call, I wouldn't have given you my number."
"Right. Yeah. Ok, it's just, I've been thinking. You can't really want me, right? This isn't, I mean you're an actual rock star, and I'm a fan, and maybe it's easy to forget all that when it's just us talking, but I mean, I'm just me, and there's a lot you don't know about that." Barry rushes out. Len chuckled again from the other end of the line.
"There's a lot you don't know about me too, Barry. Isn't that the whole point of spending time together?"
"Right. No, it is. I just, it's still kind of sinking in. I guess I'm just worried." Barry explained.
"Well if it makes you feel any better, I'm pretty sure I'm the one who should be worried." Len sighed heavily.
"You are?" Barry asks softly, shifting to curl more comfortably on his couch.
"There's a reason I haven't played a show in Central for so long, Barry. You're a fan. Surely you remember the shooting, five years ago." Len said almost casually. Everything was quiet for a minute. A shooting. There was a shooting! Someone tried to kill winter storm at one of their concerts! They had less security back then, and Len was rushed to the hospital, the gunman somehow managed to escape, it was all over the news for weeks.
"You think the shooter will come back?" Barry asked quietly.
"I think someone here in Central wants me dead. And I'm foolish enough to tempt them. Tomorrow's show could turn out quite different than tonight's." Len explains.
"Oh my god! You ass!" Barry hisses.
"You can't invite me to be your date, then put your life in danger!" He scolds.
"My life's usually in danger, Barry. Tomorrow just serves to draw them out. But don't worry. I have it on good authority that things have changed. Central City is protected now. And that I have to see for myself."
"Len. Oh my god Len are you talking about the Fl-about the blur?" Barry's almost back to squeaking.
"As impossible as it sounds, Barry, yes. I may be baiting the gunman out, but I trust that I'll be protected, just as this city is protected." He explains calmly.
"Len you goddamn idiot, how do you even know it's real? It's just a blur!" Barry's up and pacing his apartment.
"Have you ever heard of a little anonymous blog detailing this blur?" He asks. Barry sighs heavily.
"You believe because of her blog?" He groans.
"I have my reasons, for believing the way I do, Barry. But if you need more proof, I'd say that blog is a good place to start. Now, I'll see you before the show tomorrow, assuming you'd still like to see me?"
"Yeah, yes, Len. I still want to see you. You stupid self sacrificing-" Barry stopped to grunt through the frustration.
"I'll be there, Len." Barry promises, both as Barry Allen, and the flash.
Bleh. So I try to stay several chapters ahead of when I'm posting, and I'm having trouble with ch 14/15. I know where it's going, but maybe since I'm so excited to write the next thing after this ch(s), it's just hard to write. Idk. Maybe I'm just bad at writing fluff. Normally I'd finish at least the chapter I'm working on before posting another (Although since ive been posting so irregularly I don't feel so bad) but this time I just felt like posting this chapter might help me write the one I'm working on. There's logic there somewhere
Aha! It worked, ch 14 and 15, complete! Thank you. I knew there was some logic in there somewhere! This chapters shorter, but I still like it. :)
Barry couldn't sleep. Someone was very possibly planning Len's grizzly murder right now. Would they try to attack during the show again? Len definitely has increased security, but with Metahumans now, they might not stand a chance. Snart said someone in Central wants him dead. But maybe it isn't that. Maybe it's someone doesn't want him here specifically. Like a turf war. Only Len wasn't a criminal in this timeline. But he was still the same person up until he became famous, right? So he use to be a criminal. Maybe someone remembers. There wasn't time for this. Len didn't want Barry's help on this, he just wanted the flash. Typical Cold. Barry huffed. Of course Barry would save him when it came to it. Even if they weren't dating. The thought made Barry's heart flutter, and he groaned into his pillow. He was dating Captain Cold. Or at least had a date with him. At a fancy event. And press would probably be there. Oh my god pictures of them might end up in those trash magazines. Everyone would see them. But, Barry reminded himself, no one would judge him for it. That was going to take some getting use to. Hell, Barry's room at Joes house was probably still full of those posters.
Joe! Barry got dressed and sped to Joe's. He sighed In relief when he saw Joe's car outside. He didn't think this through fully. Barry scratches the back of his neck as he knocked on Joe's door. After a minute, Joe answered the door with a look of confusion.
"Barry? What are you doing here?" Joe frowned.
"I, hey. Can we talk?" Barry didn't know if Joe knew about him being the flash, but if he was going to save Len tomorrow, he could really use police back up.
"Sure, come on in." Joe replied, still confused. Barry closed the door behind him.
"So, I'm not really sure how to explain this," Barry started.
"Barr, what's wrong?" Joe frowned.
"Well... I... I think someone is going to come after Len Winters, probably tomorrow." Barry said almost too quickly.
"Len Winters?" Joe folded his arms, eyebrow raised.
"Barr, I really don't like you doing this. I know you've wanted to meet him since you were a kid, but you can't just make up a threat-"
"What? Joe, last time he was in Central he was shot!" Barry protested.
"It happens, Barry, some of these famous people's fans are crazy. That doesn't mean lightning will strike twice." Joe grimaced at his poor analogy.
"I'm sure he's fine." He tried again.
"But what if it wasn't a fan. All I'm asking is that you have a police car outside the arena just in case." Barry tried.
"Barry it's sweet you care so much about this guy, but he's just a guy. You know they say you shouldn't meet your heroes."
"Joe, he's not-that's not my point." Barry sighs.
"I just don't want you to get your hopes up, guys like that aren't even going to see the people around them." Joe shrugs.
"Len isn't-I'm not here to defend him, I'm here asking for help." Barry huffed. Was Joe always this stubborn?! Wow. Dumb question.
"Having the extra security isn't going to impress him Barr, you want my advice, just do your job and get out."
"I don't need to impress him, we're already-" Barry cut the sentence short thankfully, taking a breath before trying again.
"Len thinks someone is going to come after him at tomorrow's show. I believe him. Can you help?" He tried, as simply as he could. Joe watched him for a second.
"Barry is this man taking advantage of you?" Joe accuses, and Barry throws his arms up in frustration.
"Forget it, Joe, I'll ask Eddie." Barry shakes his head as he turns to leave.
"Come on Barr, you know I'm just worried!" Joe called after him, but Barry just couldn't. He left in a huff, waiting until he was at the corner before speeding home. He fell into his couch, before picking up his phone and writing out the text.
"Hey Iris, I know this is going to sounds strange, but is there anyway you can convince Eddie to have a police car outside the concert tomorrow?" Barry texted. Iris sent a question mark in return, followed by
"Should I be worried?"
"I think someone might try to attack Len like the last time they were in Central. I think your blur might appreciate a squad car for back up." Barry hovered over the send button, worried that it would be too much to mention the blur, but deciding to send it anyways.
"I'll do what I can, but you're going to have to explain IN DETAIL soon, ok?" She replied. Barry left out a breath. Thank god for Iris. After that, Barry was finally able to fall asleep.
There was a banging on the door again.
"Barry Allen, wake the fuck up! I will break this door down!" Barry snorted himself awake again, before stumbling to the door.
"Seriously? Again?" Barry asked with a yawn.
"This is why I show up an hour early." James huffed, shoving a coffee from Jitters towards Barry.
"I'm up, it's fine." Barry whined.
"Right sure, but you're meeting your hot rock star boyfriend, so I figured you could use the extra time to get ready." James shrugs, pushing his way past Barry. Barry grumbles, but doesn't complain any more than that.
"Barry come on!" James groaned out.
"We gotta go, come on I gave you so much time!" He whined from the other room. Barry flashes through three more outfits before finally coming out.
"Sorry, sorry, I'm ready." Barry smiles sheepishly. James just rolls his eyes before the two head out. Barry just makes sure to grab his backpack with his suit and a few power bars on the way.
Barry was nervous the whole drive. Len seemed so sure tonight would be different. What did he mean he was going to draw them out? Barry's leg bounced nervously, and at a red light, James turned to him.
"Barry, breathe. The guy clearly likes you, so relax." He huffs.
"No, I know. Just nervous." Barry shrugs.
"I know. Don't be. You got this." And maybe Barry did. He was the flash, he could move fast enough to stop a bullet, if that was how they would make an attempt on Len's life. But Barry was considering that the best case scenario at this point. Worst case, it would be a meta. And with all those cameras, if it was a meta, the secret would be out, whether or not Barry stopped them in time to save Len. His leg began bouncing nervously again. James just sighed.
When they arrived, Barry trudged behind James to the stage area. Set up wouldn't take as long today, since it was mostly just recalibrating, and rechecking it all, but time still dragged on for Barry. The second they were done, Barry was tripping over his own feet, breezing past security to Len's trailer. He hesitated, letting out a shakey breath before knocking.
"Barry." Len answered with a soft smile. Barry walked in past him, and began pacing the trailer.
"Why are you so calm? Are you seriously trying to get your attempted murderers out here? This is the stupidest thing you've ever done." Barry huffed. Len leaned into Barry's space, smirk firmly planted.
"And here I was hoping for a good luck kiss." He teases. Barry looks up at Len with a pout.
"Good luck kiss comes later, lecture time right now." Barry said firmly, but still found his hands moving across Len's chest, pulling him in close as Len closed the distance. Len kisses him softly, assuringly.
"I'm going to be fine Barry. Central City has changed since I was last here."
"I know. It's still stupid." Barry sighed, half muffled by Len's shoulder.
"Quite possibly." Len laughed softly.
"But this is important."
"I know. Can't have someone out there thinking they can intimidate you, huh?" Barry snuggles into the hold, wrapping his arms around Len a little tighter.
"Precisely" Len leaned down, kissing Barry again. He led them over to the bed, sitting down, and pulling Barry on his lap. Barry hummed into the kiss, suddenly thankful James got them here so early. Their kisses were soft, and unrushed.
"Are you sure someone's coming tonight?" Barry asks quietly, resting his head on Len's shoulder.
"I'm sure they would have come last night if it hadn't been such short notice." Len replies, rubbing small circles in Barry's back.
"Besides, I have some new music planned out, written just for tonight." Len almost laughs.
"Just, don't treat this like a game." Barry sighs.
"I won't hide anymore, Barry. It's time to deal with this little threat once and for all."
At some point, the two had to detangle, and Len had to lead Barry out.
"I'll see you out there." Len promises with a kiss.
"I'm going to be really mad if you die." Barry huffed, but Len just laughed.
"Go enjoy the show, Barry. I know I will."
Edit: well I forgot to put the song names lol.
No place like home by Todrik Hall
Castle by Halsley
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Barry met up with James in the audience, but was all nerves. He kept looking around, waiting for a threat to reveal itself. The opening band seemed to play forever, until finally, Len led his band onto center stage.
"Central City." Len started smugly, already pulling a massive wave of cheers.
"Tonight, we have two, maybe three, brand new songs to play for you." He was smirking. That idiot was putting his life on the line, and he was fucking smirking. Barry almost considered just flashing him out of there now.
Len waited for the roar of the crowd to die down, before nodding to his band to start up the music. It began as almost an eerie wizard of oz theme...
"Pay no attention,
To the man behind the curtain.
He's a brainless heartless coward
With no power.
That's just another trick of his he ain't no wizard
Don't feed his fire
Jump in my balloon, I'll take you higher
Take you somewhere over the rainbow
Get your ticket to the show
Heels clicking here we go
Cause you already know
There's no place like home"
Barry's heart was pounding as he surveyed the crowd.
"is where the heart is,
Some brainiacs will tell you home is where your house and car is
But if you're brave enough to love the ones you hate the hardest,
You might find,
Home is where your deepest scar is
Society will try to cast you where they think your part is
Give awards and accolades to what they think a star is
But go find your,
Go find your home."
Nothing yet, just screaming fans. Barry chanced a look over at Len, who was singing with a wicked grin, sending a wink over Barry's way.
"Pay no attention
To the lies they try to feed ya
It's a wicked twisted fable
He's not stable.
It's just another box of tricks
A crock of shit
And good dreams go wasted;
Hungry for the fame
Don't let him taste it!"
Wait a minute. Len's trying to draw him out; he's singing about the shooter! He already knows who it is.
"Imma tell the story my way
Cause the only way home ain't on his yellow brick highway, there's no place like home!"
He couldn't mean... oh my god, it was Lewis?! Of course it was. Barry kept a watchful eye, waiting for Lewis, or his goons to show up.
"Pay no attention
To the man who'll try to change ya
He's a dark familiar stranger
But that's the danger,
The storm is strong
But it won't be long
Cause no matter where you roam;
There's no place like home." Len looked a little intense. He might play it cool, but he was expecting Lewis to interrupt the song. Barry looked around again, but nothing was out of the ordinary yet.
"Alright, Central City." Len huffed into the mic.
"Looks like we're going for three." He nodded to his band, who looked concerned, but not enough to say they knew the risk. They started up the next song, an eerie mechanical sound revving up.
"Sick of all these people talking" Len almost seemed to glare around the audience, challenging.
"Sick of all this noise.
Tired of all these cameras flashing,
Sick of being poised.
Now my neck is open wide
Begging for a fist around it" Len physically pulled his shirt collar down, causing fan girls to erupt.
"Already choking on my pride
So there's no use crying about it." Len paces the stage carefully as the music built, before turning his full performance up.
"I'm headed straight for the castle.
They're gonna make me their queen." He bit out the words like a threat, and Barry had to actively avoid noticing how much he looked like his old self; focus on the threat.
"And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's saying that I probably shouldn't be so mean,
I'm headed straight for the castle.
They got the kingdom locked up.
And there's an old man sitting on the throne that's saying I should probably keep my pretty mouth shut,
Straight for the castle." There. Barry saw the man from across the arena, adjusting his ear piece, and clearly not enjoying the show. He was reaching for something; Barry ran, he had time to put the suit on, thank god, but there was no way the people around him didn't notice Barry disappearing, it didn't matter, he heard the screams, the gunshot. Barry caught the bullet-too close the Len-and grabbed the shooter. He phased them through the walls, and out in to the parking lot, relieved to find the squad car waiting for them. This part was easy. Take Eddie's handcuffs, handcuff the shooter, bag the gun in the evidence bag, get back to the show. Barry changed in the washroom, before finding his way back through the crowd.
"-entlemen, Central City's own Super Hero: The Flash!" Len announcement reverberated through the speakers, and Barry felt his heart drop.
I'm so stuck on ch 18. I've been pretty busy, so I kept think like oh I'll just figure it out while I'm in line or some shit. But I'm still stuck. I know exactly where it's suppose to go, but what I wrote isn't going where I want it to? Idk it's like im trying to make it too complicated when it's just suppose to be a simple chapter. Idk. Over thinking it.
Song is Hero by Ruelle. Ch 18 is finally done (or close?) I rewrote it like three times before going in a totally different direction, but I think it'll work in well :)
That absolute asshole! Barry pushes his way through the crowd as Len motioned for the band to start up their next song.
"This ones for you, flash." Len drawled out, his vicious smirk growing with the roaring crowd.
"This wind that blows
Cuts through the bone" Barry couldn't believe him! Was this ever even about the shooter?!
"The hunger grows,
We're getting closer and closer.
And everyone's watching
It all unfold
Who's gonna take the throne?
Who's gonna run the show." God Len was just fucking carefree up there! Barry made it back to his spot next to James, but the rest would have to wait. He was definitely going to give Snart an earful after the show.
"Everybody wants a hero
Everybody wants someone
To lay it all down on the line.
Everybody wants a hero
Everybody wants someone
Who's gonna fight fire with fire." Barry was so mad he couldn't even enjoy this. He huffed.
"The ground it shakes,
These iron chains
It's made to break
Who's gonna rise up and save us?"
After the song ended, Len stood at the mic for a second, eyes scanning the crowd appreciatively.
"Central City." He hummed.
"With such an exciting night, I'm afraid we're going to have to cut the rest of the show short." Len explains, and Barry's already heading towards the back.
"It is so good to be back."
Barry was waiting as close to the stage as security would allow him. As soon as Len walked over, his band behind him, Barry through his hands up.
"What the hell was that?!" He nearly squeaks out. Len places an arm around Barry as they head to his trailer, ignoring the snort of amusement from his band.
"I told you I'd be fine." Len almost whispers as he lets them in. With the door closed behind them, Barry huffs.
"This was never about the shooter, was it. You just wanted the flash." Barry is so mad, but he can't make it sound anything but quiet and hurt.
"Barry. If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I want it all." Snart told him seriously, before stepping away to pour himself a drink. Barry glared at him.
"I'm so mad at you right now." He almost pouted. Len chuckled sadly.
"See? I told you, I'm the one who should be worried."
"Yeah, but you're not. You're so... carefree, like you don't even care if you live or die, it's infuriating!" Barry huffed out. Snart turned to him, a considering look, for a moment.
"Did you believe in the flash before tonight?" He asks, judging Barry's reaction carefully.
"I-that's not important."
"But it is. The way I see it, the flash is out there, squashing metas and stopping crime, doing the good work and protecting good people. But this city deserves more from him, it always has. Central City needs its hero, and its long past time he shows up for them."
"I-I'm so mad at you right now I can't even think about this." Barry shakes his head turning to leave.
"I'll call you later, or see you before tomorrow's show, or something." He huffs, before walking out the door. He wanders back through the arena, and out into the parking lot.
"Barry!" Iris runs over to him, throwing her arms around him.
"I can't believe this! I got clean footage of 'The Flash'! Look at this!" Iris leans into Barry's space to show him the video on her phone. Barry almost groans. No definable features, of course, but it was clearly a person, not just a blur.
"You have to tell me everything! How did you know!?" She asked, grinning wildly. And Barry wants to tell her everything. He looks around for a minute before sighing.
"Can we go? I'll text James that I'm riding with you, and I'll explain everything." He wasn't sure how much of everything he even could explain, but him being the flash was a good place to start.
The ride was quiet, at first. Iris seemed more on edge, reading Barry's nerves easily.
"So. About the blur." Barry started with a sigh.
"The Flash." Iris corrects.
"Yeah. About that." Barry watches the scenery flying by, suddenly wondering if it's safe to tell Iris this while she's driving.
"Yes?" She asks.
"So I am the flash." Barry said simply. Iris just made a face.
"Shut up. What's really going on?"
"Iris, honestly. After getting struck by lightning I woke up from that coma with unbelievable speed. I've been working with star labs to help as many people as we can. I'm sorry I never told you, I don't know why I didn't." He sighed, thumping his head back.
"You're serious." Iris replied quietly.
"I've been writing about this blur for years? And this whole time," she cut her sentence short with a huff.
"Did my dad tell you to keep this from me?" She demands.
"No! Not here, anyways, I don't even think he knows." Barry hurriedly replies. Iris was quiet for a moment.
"Barry this is a lot to throw at me." She says softly.
"There's so much more, Iris, and I want to tell you everything. I know it's a lot to take in, but I need-I need my best friend right now."
"Ok. Ok, we'll go back to my place, and we'll talk this through." She nods. Barry lets out a sigh of relief. Where would he even start? Would he tell her he wasn't the real Barry? That he was from a timeline that didn't exist anymore? Time travel was a big thing to start with, let alone that. If he was going to explain that, maybe he should start with-oh god Eobard. Last time Eobard bugged every one of their houses! Was it even safe talking about this? This was a bad idea.
"This is a bad idea." Barry echoed his own thoughts.
"I do want to tell you everything, but, there's too much right now, I-I can't yet." Barry was almost in tears as he phased himself out of Iris' car and just ran.
He needed someone; something, he needed to end this, to get rid of Eobard, and end things with Snart, and tell his family the truth, and he-he wanted to go home. But his timeline was gone. He shattered it. There was no going home.
Oof. Well, might as well update with what I have written, lol
After running the city for over an hour, Barry finally phased back into his apartment, and plopped down on his couch. He slowly pulled his phone out of his pocket, groaning at all the missed calls and texts.
Two missed calls from Iris, and a text saying she'd be there when he was ready to talk.
One text from James, saying how crazy the concert was, and hoping Len was ok.
Six missed calls from Cisco, two from Star Labs, three from Caitlin... Barry sighed, before calling Cisco.
"Dude Dr Wells is livid." Cisco almost laughed. Barry huffed out a mix of emotions.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm really glad you saved the band, and this video is top notch; you can almost see the chest emblem. It looks really cool man, but Dr Wells is pretty mad."
"Let him be. I did what I had to do." Barry grumbled.
"You know nothing's going to be the same, right?" Cisco asked after a minute.
"Everyone knows you're out there now."
"I know." He remembered this feeling well enough, the last time Snart baited him onto national television. After hanging up, Barry ended up sulking for a few more hours before finally falling into a restless sleep.
Barry groaned loudly at the banging at his door. Barry pulled out his phone. Two o'clock.
"Hang on James!" Barry huffed, stumbling to the door. He opened it, and James handed him a coffee.
"Are these bribes?" Barry asked, watching the coffee carefully. James rolled his eyes.
"Obviously. Now tell me what happened yesterday. I'd think after a near death experience, you and Len Winters would be banging for sure."
"I'm just," Barry huffed, shuffling past James and to his bedroom.
"I'm just a little mad at him right now, that's all." He explained quietly, before hiding behind his door.
"You don't get to be mad at him! He's a rock star, Barry! And the poor guy almost got murdered! And you didn't even talk to him? That's cold, bro."
"I don't want to talk about it, bro!" Barry yelled back through the door.
"But bro, you getting it on with a rock star is the most interesting things that's ever happened to me."
"Can we stop with all the bros?" Barry asked, once he was ready and out the door. The walk to the car was quiet, and the ride wasn't looking much better.
"You know I can set up on my own today if you want to kiss and make up with him." James offers half way through the drive.
"It's fine. I'll go see him after we set up." Barry shrugs.
They set up in silence, and Barry took his time walking to Len's trailer. He sighed before knocking.
"It's open." Len called. Barry hesitantly opened the door and let himself in. Len was sitting against the headboard of his bed, legs stretched out, and a book in his hand.
"So I'm still mad, but I think maybe I over reacted." Barry explained.
"Don't do that." Len said disinterestedly, before turning his eyes back to his book.
"Don't do what?" Barry sighed.
"Let other people get in your head about how you should feel. If you're mad at me, let me have it." He explained calmly, not glancing up at Barry again.
"I am mad." He huffed.
"Then talk to me about it." For such a caring sentiment, Snart sure found a way to make it sound like a demand. Barry crosses his arms.
"You knowingly put yourself in harms way just to expose the flash." Barry bit out.
"I was already in harm's way. And the flash should be flattered that I wrote a song for him." Len was still just reading casually, and it was starting to get on Barry's nerves.
"That's-" wait, Len wrote a song for him? Barry really needed to go back and watch last night's show.
"That's not the point." He pouted.
"Then what is?"
"I-I don't know." Barry replied after a second.
"Do want to be mad, or do you want to come here?" Len asked, finally setting down his book and looking at Barry. Barry hesitated.
"Can't I do both?" He asks.
"Sure, Barry." Len chuckled. Barry crosses the trailer, nearly crawling into the bed next to Len, and leaning his head on Len's shoulder.
"What're you reading?" Barry asked softly.
"You like shark week." Barry said more than asked. Len hummed in response.
"What about you, Barry? What do you like?" Len's voice reverberated softly, and Barry couldn't help but sigh contently, letting the tension from this whole week ease.
"I like... musicals. And sci-fi. I like..." Barry trailed off, daring to run his fingers over Len's chest, scooting a little closer.
"..movie marathons that border on the insane, and documentaries about aliens and big foot." Len laughs at him a little, but he stretches his arm around Barry a little more.
"So what I'm hearing, is that we're going to have a musical marathon soon." Len teases, but it still makes Barry's heart flutter.
"You don't have a tv in here." Barry almost whispers with a smile.
"I can buy one. Or we can go to yours." Len shrugs.
"Without your body guards? I don't think so." Barry snuggles in closer.
"And I'm still mad."
"I can tell." Len chuckles, kissing the top of Barry's head.
The two talked in lazy tones until a knock on the door startled them.
"On in ten!" The voice yelled through the door.
"I should probably get ready." Len nearly whispered. Barry sat up, looking at Len fondly.
"Can I come back after the show?" Barry asks, biting his lip lightly.
"Of course." Len leans up, and Barry meets the kiss.
"I'll see you out there." Barry promises, pulling back after a few soft kisses.
Barry made his way out through the crowd as the opening band finished off their set. James gave him an enthusiastic thumbs up, and Barry rolled his eyes with a soft smile. Barry cheered with the crowd when Winter Storm came on stage, and watched Len preform with awe and pride. Barry let down all the defenses, and the stress of everything that came with his life, and just enjoyed the concert. He sang along with songs he never heard before, and felt that deep connection with them. When the show came to an end, and Len was up there, thanking the crowd, Barry couldn't wait to get back by his side. His heart was pounding, and he couldn't stop smiling, wide and genuine. Len smiled fondly down at him, and Barry was beaming.
Barry knocked on Len's trailer.
"Barry. Enjoy the show?" Len asks, letting Barry in. Barry laughs, immediately pulling Len in for a kiss. It was sweeter and slower than before; a kiss filled with soft smiles.
"I don't want to be mad anymore." Barry said quietly.
"What do you want?" Len challenges softly, and Barry doesn't know how to answer.
"I just want to be with you." He says honestly. Snart pulls him in close, kissing the top of his head softly.
"I don't have a tv, but we could watch something on my laptop." Len offers, still holding Barry close. Barry laughs fondly.
"What do you want to watch?" Barry asks, pulling away enough to lead Len towards the bed.
"How about one of your musicals?" Len asks, pulling his laptop out and joining Barry on the bed.
"Works for me." Barry cuddles close to Len as he sets up the movie.
"Barry," Len nudged Barry, trying to wake him up gently as the credits rolled.
"Barry, your phone's ringing." Len said softly, still nudging. Barry groaned, before slowly sitting up and looking at Snart. For a second, Barry was almost in shock.
"Len." Barry said, still groggy.
"Barry." Len smirked back.
"Your phones ringing." Len repeated, glancing down at Barry's pocket. Barry jumped up to answer.
"James! Oh my god I am so sorry, what time is it?!" Barry glanced back at Len, wildly and apologetic. Len quirked a brow.
"No, no, I'll be right out. Ok, bye." Barry hung up the phone with a sigh.
"So James is my ride, and he's tired of waiting for me? I gotta go." Barry leaned across the bed to kiss Len quickly.
"I'll see you tomorrow?"
"I look forward to it. And Barry. If you ever need a ride, I can easily arrange that for you. No need to keep your friend waiting." Len offered. Barry froze a little, before smiling warmly.
"I might take you up on that."
"Three. Hours." James groaned.
"I am so sorry." Barry sighed, as the two made their way to James' car.
"No, no, it's fine. I'm just sorry that I didn't interrupt something more interesting. Shame to have woke you." James teased.
"Hey, were not in any rush, ok? We'll get there." Barry pouted. James just laughed.
"It's your life." James dropped Barry off, with the increasingly unbelievable promise to show up at three.
"It's fine James, I'll see you at two." Barry laughed.
Barry settles on his couch, pulling up the concert footage from last night. He watched an rewatched the moment he saved Len, too close. Finally he sped forward and watched the song Len wrote for him. Well not, him, but the flash. About him being a hero. Barry pauses the video. Looking at the still image of Len on stage, in his element, for a while. What could he even see in Barry? He sighed, shutting down his computer before getting ready for bed.
Barry was up and ready by the time James showed up, just shy of two o'clock.
"Damn look at you. Did you actually wake up before noon?" James asked, handing Barry a coffee before leading the way out.
"Well. Almost." Barry grinned.
"Just remember we gotta stick around to dismantle the set, so don't go running to sleep with your man right after." James teases.
"I know. And Len said he could get me a ride home, so you don't need to wait up for me." Barry smiled.
"Oof, about time!"
The two got their usual drive through food on the way, and set up the stage in a companionable silence. James gave Barry a quick 'good luck', and Barry was headed to Len's trailer.
"You're early." Len said, an all too amused smile across his face.
"Setting up went quick today." Barry shrugged, following Len in.
"What is that smell?" Barry nearly moaned.
"It's just pizza, Barry." Len laughed.
"If this is a bribe, it's working." Barry teased, moving around Len to bee-line for the pizza.
"Mh, but now I know your secret." Len teased right back. Barry almost choked.
"The way to your heart." Len continued in a purr. Barry laughed almost nervously.
"Someday maybe I could cook for you." Len almost promises, leaning against the counter.
"You cook? Don't you have people for that?" Barry laughed, setting down his pizza to lean opposite Len.
"Careful, Barry. You wouldn't want to miss out on one of my homemade meals."
"No, I wouldn't." Barry grinned, crossing the space between them to give Len a light kiss.
Len watched with amusement as Barry went right back to his pizza.
"I've been meaning to ask you," Len started, sitting across from Barry. Barry looked up at him from behind his pizza.
"But I've been worried about sounding, self centered, I suppose." Len pauses, waiting for Barry to make a series of hand motions as he chews.
"I'd like to think we're past the point of pretending you're the self serving loner that you pretend to be." Barry almost huffed out.
"Seriously, you can just ask." Barry shrugged, taking another bite of his pizza.
"Do you have a favorite song of mine?" There was that calculating, careful, expression again.
"Well. I don't think you'll like the answer." Barry shrugged, almost sadly.
"Now how could you know that?"
"Because it's from your third album. I mean, I like your third album the best over all. But I wouldn't want you to write another like it. I like it because it's sad and horrible; and more than that, I like it because nothing since has ever been so sad. I always liked to think writing those songs helped you heal from it." Barry couldn't look at Len as he explained this. He remembered a lot about it, though. He remembered the album came out three days before the anniversary of his mother's death. That the album was so gut wrenching, it matched his own pain, surpassed it, and left Barry feeling a lot less alone. He remembered noticing that Winter Storm never played songs from the third album, barely talked about it. Every song detailed trauma and misery and grief, and so much more that Barry had never known in the old timeline. And now those traumas were sang, recorded, and put out to the whole world. It was at this point that Barry had to look up at Len. It had been quiet for too long. Len looked conflicted, but the sadness, and maybe shame, were clear in his eyes.
"I shouldn't have asked." Len finally says softly.
"It didn't help you heal, did it?" Barry almost asks. Len sighs.
"Barry..." Len leans his head back, crossing his arms a little tighter.
"I'd like to tell you everything. But this," Len trailed off, finally looking back at Barry.
"At some point, my band will be back on the road." Len frowns, and Barry feels his heart drop.
"Oh. Yeah, of course." Barry says quietly.
"I want this, Barry. And I have plenty of business here in town to keep me for a while." Len explains,
"But at some point the novelty of being with me will wear thin. There are some things that could damage me far past that."
"Wait. Are you saying that I'm going to be the one to leave you? Because you realize that's insane, right?" Barry actually can't believe what he's hearing.
"I know it feels that way right now, but given time-"
"No, no, hang on. You're serious. Len I'm not going anywhere. I mean I can't travel the world with you when you're on tour, and I don't know how you feel about long-distant things, but this is really good. We're really good." Barry finishes softly. Len somehow looks more hesitant than when Barry started.
"You don't have to tell me anything now. We've got time, right?" Barry stepped closer to Len, but waited for Len to close the distance. Len huffed our a smile before nodding, and pulling Barry into his arms.
"Sure, kid, all the time in the world."
Len kisses the top of Barry's head softly.
"You sure you don't have any requests for tonight?" Len asked, still unwilling to pull away from Barry too far.
"I'm sure, Len." Barry smiles, snuggling into Len further.
"You know you're just about to good to be true, right?" Len whispers. Barry chuckles softly.
"You're the rock star, Len." They stay close until Len has to get ready for the show, and Barry pulls away with a lingering kiss.
"I'll see you out there." Barry says with a smile, before heading out to the crowd.
Barry meets up with James halfway through the opening band's show. James gives him a smile and a nod through the noise, and Barry let himself enjoy the experience, even if the band wasn't really to his taste. He cheered and grinned when Len lead his band on stage, and let himself get lost in Winter Storm's performance once again. Len would smile down at him, and Barry's heart would soar. After the show, Barry tried to move past the crowd back to Len, but James' hand on his arm stopped him. Right. Dismantling the set. Barry sighed, but waited with James for the arena to empty out. When there was only a handful of fans left, Barry and James hopped on the stage, and began packing everything up.
"Iris is still here." James says casually as they finish up. Barry turns, giving Iris a small wave. She looks concerned, but waves back. She really does deserve more of an answer. Barry hopped down, walking over to where she was waiting.
"Can I give you a ride?" She asks, nodding back to the door.
"Oh-uh, no, I'm going to see Len." Barry says, before realizing she has no way to know what he's talking about.
"We're dating." He explained, and Iris looked about ready to explode.
"You-what?" She asks, shock clear on her face.
"Len and I? It's a long story." Barry scratched the back of his neck nervously.
"Bartholomew Allen." Iris grits out.
"First the flash stuff, now this?" She says quietly.
"I know, it's been a really weird week."
"I just, I thought you knew you could talk to me. I want you to trust me, Barry." She says softly.
"I do! It's just, Iris the flash stuff is dangerous, really dangerous, especially right now. And the stuff with Len, it just kind of happened, plus I signed a non disclosure? I mean I don't think Len minds, but it's just kind of been a lot?"
"Does 'Len' know about you? About the flash?"
"No! No, we just got together this weekend, he, he actually wants me to be his date at the award thing in Starling?" Barry explained nervously. Iris gives him a calculating glance.
"And you didn't tell me that? Barry that's really exciting." She said almost sadly.
"I-I know, the flash stuff has kind of just taken over? I mean I'm excited, and James knows, but I haven't really talked about it with anyone."
"James knows your the flash and I didn't?" She huffed.
"No! He just knows about the Len stuff!"
"You've gotten good at hiding secrets, Barry. I'm worried about you."
"I-I'm sorry, Iris. Like I said before, there's a lot I want to tell you. I'm just not even sure where to begin." He sighed.
"Well give it some thought. I want to know everything, when your ready." She places a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Thanks, Iris. I will."
"Good. In the meantime, I'm going to grill James for every detail he's got." Iris winked at him before heading towards the stage.
"Have fun with your rock star!" She calls back to him. Barry smiles, making his way back to Len.
"Sorry I took so long, packing up the set always takes a while." Barry sighed as Len let him in.
"Nothing to worry about, Barry. I'm not going anywhere." Len smiles fondly.
"We should probably talk about this whole gala thing, right?" Barry asks, leaning into Len's space.
"Hm, probably." Len sighs.
"Are you free tomorrow? I'm sure Jeff will want to take you to the tailor's, get you fitted for a suit." Len asks, and Barry almost laughed
"Right, yeah. I mean there's some things I should probably do tomorrow-" like go to star labs
"-but it's not anything I really want to do." He shrugged.
"So long as I don't get you in trouble." Len replies smoothly. Barry just laughed.
"Please, I'm sure you'd love to get me in trouble." Barry teased.
"Only if I'm right there with you." Len almost promised.
Barry stayed later, cuddling with Len, and watching movies, laughing and relaxing, and trying to put star labs out of his head. As it reached the early hours of the morning, Len sighed.
"While I'd love to keep you here, Barry, you do have things to do tomorrow." He glanced at the clock.
"Or later today, I suppose." Len shrugs, and Barry sighs heavily.
"Ok. Will I see you then?" Barry asks, still lounging across Len's chest.
"I'm afraid not. I have some other things to attend to, but I'll be there to pick you up on Tuesday."
"I figured you'd send a limo or something." Barry teased.
"Of course. But I will be in the limo." Len smiled back. Barry just laughed.
"Come on, I'll get Curtis to give you a ride." Len lead the way out, talking to one of his security guards before kissing Barry lightly.
"I'll see you Tuesday." He promises. Barry nods.
"See you then." Barry follows the security guard, Curtis, out to the parking lot.
"I've worked for mr Winters for nearly eight years now." Curtis tells him as they approach his black car.
"Never seen him take to someone like this." They get in the car, and Barry fidgets a bit.
"Yeah, we just kind of hit it off." Barry laughs awkwardly.
"If you say so." Curtis shrugs. The rest of the ride is quiet, except for Barry giving directions here and there.
"I'll be accompanying Mr Winston tomorrow, should we pick you up here?" He asks, as he parks the car outside Barry's apartment complex.
"Yeah, sure. That's fine." Barry shrugs.
"Thanks for the ride."
Barry sighs as he gets ready for bed. Really he should at least let Cisco know he won't be in tomorrow. He sends over a quick text, just saying he'll be busy for the next couple days, before plopping down on his bed. He won't be able to avoid star labs forever, won't be able to avoid thinking about Eobard. But for now, he just wanted to think about Len, about how in this timeline, Snart really did seem to care for him, want him. For now, that was all Barry would think about.
He woke up to his phone blaring far too early in the morning. He groaned, answering with his face still half in his pillow.
"Hello?" He asked, half muffled.
"Mr Allen, this is Mr Winston. We should be there in ten minutes, so please meet us outside." He requested cordially. Barry was hopping out of bed instantly.
"Oh, right yeah, I'm up, I'll see you then." Barry promised, before flashing through his morning routine. Barry sighed, running down the stairs at normal speed to meet them at the curb. He was nervous, even knowing he wouldn't see Len until tomorrow. This whole fame and fortune thing, while clearly much better than Len's old notorious criminal thing, Was still a lot to handle. Tomorrow they would be at a fancy award ceremony, with cameras and people, and Barry had never done anything like this. He let out a shakey breath as the same car from last night pulled up. Barry got in, waving awkwardly at Mr Winston.
"Mr Allen." Mr Winston greeted with a tight smile.
"Call me Barry." Barry insisted. Mr Winston frowned.
"The gala tomorrow is a place where the finest artists and persons of exceptional wealth and notability meet up and form lasting connections. Ones that can lead to powerful friends. I expect all my talent, and their-" he stopped to look Barry over with a judgmental glance.
"-guests, to be model citizens; pictures of responsibility, cleanliness, and most importantly, a measure of social class. Despite what you may have heard, the suit does not make the man. Mr Winters can blow however much he desires on fitting you to this gala's standards, but none of it will mean anything if you make a bad impression."
"Right, so shut up and look pretty." Barry rolled his eyes, not liking the tone of this lecture.
The fitting took some time, and was about as awkward as Barry could have expected, if he had actually thought this through. He had half a suit on, and the tailor was measuring, writing, and remeasuring. Barry tried not to fidget. After a while, his phone started to ring from across the room. Barry glanced between the source of the ringing, and the man with the measuring tape.
"I-Uh, let's just, take a break." Barry shuffled out of the half suit jacket, hurrying over to his phone.
"Make it quick, Mr Allen." Mr Winston huffed.
"Hello?" Barry answered his phone quickly.
"There's a meta human making a scene out at the west docks. You need to get over there."
"Dr Wells." Barry managed to bite out.
"Barry. It's only a matter of time before this meta's tantrum spills into the more populated areas. You need to go, now." Wells said firmly. Barry looked over the room hesitantly.
"I-I told Cisco-"
"Yes, yes, I know you're busy, but if you don't go, people will get hurt. It's your call, as always." Dr Wells says patiently. Barry hesitates.
"I'll be right there." He finally sighs, before hanging up the phone, and looking to Mr Winston and Curtis.
"Something just... came up. I have to go." Barry turned his attention away from Mr Winston's increasing disapproval, and towards the tailor.
"You got the measurements, right? I just, this is important." The tailor nods, and Barry is on his way out the door. He doesn't miss Curtis following him.
"Mr Winters left specific instructions to give you a lift here, and back." He states.
"It's fine, I'll walk." Barry says, trying to shut off the company so he can speed off.
"Let me drive you, for my own peace of mind." He insists. Barry hesitates.
"Ok, fine, but I'm in kind of a hurry. Just drop me off at Star Labs." Barry huffs, changing direction to the black security vehicle. Curtis doesn't disappoint, and hurried into the car.
"You know, I've been working Mr Winter's security a long time." Curtis says, once their on the road.
"Yeah, you mentioned." Barry replies uneasily.
"I've had to intervene with some real creeps; bad people trying to find leverage against Mr Winters." He's stern, and Barry's unease grows.
"I'm sure." Barry says simply.
"It's not just me. Mr Winters' got the best legal team anyone could ask for."
"Right. I remember all the forms I had to sign." Barry frowns.
"And if there's one thing I know about Mr Winters, It's that he takes care of his people." Curtis continues right through.
"I don't really know where you're going with this." Barry says honestly.
"I know hate and panic when I see it. You need this Dr Wells dealt with, Mr Winters will arrange it." Curtis tells him confidently. Barry almost laughs.
"No, no it's fine. It's not like that." Barry tried, although truth was, he did need help. But no one else could stand a chance. Especially not any of these people Len could send.
"Just putting it out there." Curtis shrugs, parking the car at Star Lab's main entrance.
"Well, thanks, but it really is fine. I just, I gotta go." Barry tried to smile, fumbling with his seat belt and stepping out, walking into star labs at normal pace. He waited to turn the corner before speeding into star labs
"Five! Minutes, Mr Allen." Dr Wells lectured.
"I know, I know, I couldn't get rid of Len's body guard, I had to let him drive me here." Barry huffs, in between speeding into his suit.
I'm actually still really unsure about the direction of the next chapter because it was never in my plans for the over all direction? Idk. It's happening though I guess so if in the long run it feels out of place, that's why, lol.
Barry speeds to the docks, Cisco giving directions the whole way.
"Speed in, and take them directly to the pipeline, Barry." Dr Wells instructs. The pipeline. They were still doing that. Barry stepped out of the speed force, skidding to a halt some distance away from the meta. There wasn't anyone else here. Just her, and bent and broken property.
"You're here." Magenta said, her pink hair whipping around as she turned to him. Her eyes glowed pink.
"Hi." Barry started lamely.
"Barry, don't let her get the upper hand. Take her in." Dr Wells continued.
"I'm the flash." Barry introduced himself, walking over to her slowly.
"I knew I couldn't be the only one! You saved Winter Storm!" She grinned at him.
"I did. Did you do all of this on purpose?" Barry gestured to the bent in warehouses and lamp posts warped to the ground. She gives him a sheepish look.
"Sort of. No ones ever out here, so I've been practicing. Sometimes I get a little carried away." She shrugs, looking displeased at the mess.
"I'd like to help you, if you'd let me." Barry offered. The girl smiled, reaching out and shaking Barry's hand.
"Magenta. When I first got my powers, it took me a long time to control them too. I have friends, scientists and doctors, who were able to give me a better view of what I was working with. They helped me be a hero." Barry explains. Magenta seems to pull in on herself.
"Did they experiment on you?"
"No! No, nothing like that. They just gave me the resources and the space to practice my own powers, control them better. I like to know everything I can, so I let my friend Caitlin take my bloodwork, and that helps me understand. But you don't have to do that if you don't want."
"Can you help me be a hero like you?" Magenta asks, still skeptical. Barry smiles.
"Well the training comes first. Controlling your power, and learning the ropes behind the scenes. But once you've mastered that, and you're old enough, yeah. We could be a team." Barry offers.
"Barry, what are you doing?" Wells seeths through the ear piece.
"Why don't you meet me at Star Labs on Wednesday." Barry's heart was thrumming at the blatant disregard of Dr. Well's input.
"I-I'm not really good at planning." Magenta says quietly.
"I just mean. I can say I'll be there Wednesday, but it might not be this Wednesday." She tried to explain.
"Oh, are you busy?" Barry replies, frowning slightly in confusion.
"No, maybe. I don't really know. Just, I'll be there sometime on a Wednesday, ok?" She huffed, glow brightening.
"Yeah. Ok, sure." Barry smiled genuinely.
"Just, do me a favor, and save this-" Barry pointed at all the property damage.
"For somewhere that's built for it."
"Oh-ok. Uhm, Flash? Thank you." She shrugs a little.
"Sure. I'll look forward to seeing you on a Wednesday." He grinned, before speeding back to Star Labs.
Dr. Wells glared angrily at Barry as he was speeding in.
"I'm sorry Mr Allen, I didn't realize we were recruiting an army." He seethed.
"Actually Dr Wells, I think he handled it perfectly" Caitlin chipped in.
"Yeah, Dude that kid sounded like-well like a kid." Cisco adds.
"I'm aware of that, but we've been very clear about the dangers of revealing your secret, and this little stunt you pulled at that, that concert has only put everyone in that much more danger. Do you really want to bring a kid into that?" Dr Wells lectured.
"Clearly you'd rather we lock her in the pipeline, right?" Barry bit back.
"If it means keeping the city and the world safe, then yes. We contain them until we can rehabilitate them." Dr Wells wheeled towards Barry.
"And how are we doing that? It's been years, and we've barely even talked about it!" Barry yelled back. The timelines were conflating again, the Barry from this one bleeding through, just beginning to process Barry's old memories, and everything it meant about the man in front of him.
"Look." Barry sighed.
"It's way past time we get the police involved. Cisco has the power dampening cuffs, he can help the police department prepare for this." Barry explained. It worked in his old timeline, it would work here.
"Woah, hang on," Cisco frowned.
"We have two working hand cuffs, and even if I can perfect it, making enough for the entire police department will take a long time."
"Then we have to start now. And why stop at handcuffs? Couldn't you use the same principle to create a dampening field?" Barry suggested.
"Woah." Cisco frowned.
"I'm having the weirdest sense of déjà vu."
"Let me guess, you've already thought of it?" Barry almost smirked.
"No, it's not that. But look, man, I can keep working at this, but counteracting dark matter is really new territory. A field would be great, but think of the power consumption alone." Cisco huffed.
"I'm sure if anyone can figure it out, it would be you, Cisco." Dr Wells replies, watching the interaction with calculating eyes.
Ok. Ok, so I literally went back and forth on having Magenta here so much that it's one of the main reasons I haven't worked on this fic much. But whatever, it's posted so now I have to accept it and finally move the fic forward lol.
Thanks to everyone who's supported this fic, and while I can't exactly say I'm back on track with writing it, I at least have the story tab open in my brain again, so that's something. :)
Barry stays at star labs, hovering around Cisco as they brainstorm ways to integrate in the police department.
"This is a mess." Cisco huffed, pushing the stack of scattered papers to the back of his desk. Barry sighed, plopping down in the seat next to him.
"I know this can work. We just need to put the work in." Barry shrugged.
"Yeah, but first, any chance you could run out for some burgers?" Cisco asked before slapping Barry's arm gently. Only, he gasped as he did it. Something was wrong.
"Cisco?" Barry asks, as a Cisco seems to snap in on himself.
"What was that?" Cisco asks, almost out of breath.
"You tell me." Barry replies, concerned. Cisco shakes his head.
"It's nothing. Just been working too long." He sighs.
"If you say so. I'll run out to big belly burger, then. Just take it easy." Barry frowned, but Cisco just nodded.
When Barry sped back in with an armful of burger bags, Cisco groaned in appreciation.
"Thank god!" He huffed, kicking off the desk and wheeling himself to their makeshift table. They ate in companionable silence, until Cisco had moved on from the burger and began picking at the fries.
"So I got a question for you." Cisco starts, dipping the fries.
"Shoot." Barry says behind a mouthful of burger.
"When you got here you said, and I quote, "Len's body guard" drove you. Are you on a first name basis with Len Winters? Because that's big news."
"Oh." Barry blushes slightly, setting down his burger.
"I'm actually going to this award gala thing with him tomorrow. I was at the tailors with his body guard and manager this morning." Barry shrugs. After Cisco is silent for a minute, Barry looks up at him. Cisco frowns before throwing a handful of fries at him.
"Sorry I don't know how to process this." He laughed.
"Barry Allen and Len Freaking Winters. Is it a date? Or like a work thing?" He asks, apparently over his shock and back to eating fries.
"A date." Barry smiled softly.
"That's why I said I'd be busy today and tomorrow, so, you know, really don't call tomorrow." He laughed.
"I'll do what I can my man, that's insane."
Barry wakes up early the next morning, breezing through his morning routine. He messed with his hair, paces around nervously, before messing with his hair again. Len and his people would be here soon, bringing Barry's new tailored outfit.
By the time there's a knock on his door, he's practically crawling the walls with nervous energy.
"Len." Barry says in surprise, having expected one of Lens people to come up, or maybe have them just call Barry down to the car like last time.
"Barry." Len smirks at him in a soft way that meets his eyes. It briefly occurred to Barry, as he leads the way inside, that Snart usually just broke in through the window.
"I got to be honest, I'm pretty nervous." Barry explains, taking the bagged hanger from Len.
"I'm not. With you there with me, I might actually enjoy myself." Len leans against Barry's counter, confidence contagious.
"It's a two hour drive, so just wear the suit pants and undershirt. You'll want to wait on the jacket." Len continues easily. Barry huffs out a laugh, nodding on his way back to his room.
Barry runs a hand over his shirt, checking himself in the mirror self consciously.
"I like your place." Len calls out from the other room, and Barry can't help his smile. He steps out, walking over as Len watches appreciatively.
"Maybe we could come back here after." Barry suggests, voice shaky, but all too heated. Len smirks at him, a true Captain Cold smirk, and Barry feels the excited shiver run down his spine.
"It's going to feel like a long day, Barry, but I'm sure I won't be turning you down if at the end of the night the offer still stands." Len explains, always cautious and alight.
Len leads the way down to the limo, his hand on the small of Barry's back.
"Oh, I thought your band would be here." Barry notes absently. Len scoots in next to Barry, and the driver close the door behind him.
"They'll be driving separately; it's a long drive, and I'd much rather spend the time with you." Len explains, and Barry laughs through the blush he feels creeping in. The two talked about art and music, and the gala and life. The drive seemed to fly by, not near long enough to prepare Barry for the experience. Still, as they pulled into the entrance filled with flashing lights beyond the tinted windows of the limousine, Len had managed to turn Barry's nerves to excitement.
"Just take my arm and follow my lead. You'll do fine." Len promises softly. The door opens, and Len steps out before helping Barry. The cameras flashed on either side of the velvet ropes, gossip reporters screaming questions and demanding attention that Len waved off easily. Barry held onto Len, following him through the strange walkway, and finally into the doors. Once in the main entry, it was much quieter, and Barry gaped at the room. He knew this place.
"Len Winters, welcome back." Oliver smiles tightly, shaking Len's hand as he shot Barry a quizzical glance.
"Barry!" Felicity nearly yelped, rushing over to them.
"You two know each other?" Len asked a mixture of confusion and amusement clear on his face.
"Sort of, we both, Uhm, we're in the tech field, and uhm?" Barry struggled.
"Well, regardless, I'm sure it won't be a problem, right Barry?" Oliver intervenes diplomatically.
"Yep! No problem!" Barry almost squeaks back.
"Why don't we head inside." Len offers, and Barry nods as he clings a little tighter to Len's arm. It should have been nice to see a familiar face, but it almost made it harder. He was really trying to separate this from the rest of his life; from the flash. And now all he could think of was using this time to ask for help against Eobard.
Len lead them into the main room, music and small talk filling the air and making Barry feel all the more claustrophobic. Every so often someone would stop them and talk to Len for a moment, before he would find an excuse to lead Barry away.
"This is a lot." Barry told him, barely above a whisper. He could feel his voice shaking.
"You're doing great. Everyone else will arrive in the hour, and we can slip out before the awards start." Len tells him, and Barry huffs out a laugh.
"What if they try to give you an award and you're not here?" Barry asks.
"Please, Barry, I've been at this for some time. I think I've won all the awards I ever will. Coming here at all anymore is just a formality." Len explains easily.
"I just-I think I need some air." Barry replies in a strained tone, already trying to bee-line it to the back door.
"Barry, wait." Len whispers, but Barry's head is spinning.
"Snart, please, I'll be fine." Barry shrugs out of his hold, disappearing through the crowd quickly. He needed air, space, quiet; this was too much. He stepped out the door, past the finely dressed crowd out back and down the stairs. He could hear Len yelling his name behind him but the cold breeze was exactly what he needed, and he had to keep walking before he broke down and broke out running.
"Barry!" Len called again, and as Barry turned back, he felt a sudden pinch at his neck. He reacted slow, too many eyes on him, too many people. God he was drugged. He pulled out the dart as he swayed on his feet, finding himself falling to the ground.
He was being dragged into the back of a car. He could see Len running towards him, see Len yelling before the the doors of the van closed between them and the van was peeling out.
He was drugged. He could vibrate the drug out of his system in seconds, but he wasn't alone. He didn't know how long they drove before the drug began to wear down naturally, but it was far. He feigned a continuing unconsciousness, sure by now they had driven well over an hour, and sure he'd find his moment to escape when they finally stopped.
"He's dosed up enough to take down a horse, it's fine." One of the thugs huffed.
"Just make sure he doesn't stop breathing, the boss was clear." Another replies sharply. When the car finally stop, and the doors open, he goes limp as they drag him into an old warehouse. It was always the warehouses. In fact, Barry was fairly certain he had a fight here recently, in the old timeline, at least.
They tie him to a chair. Not the worst way he'd been tied up, but of course it was hardly comfortable. The grunts mutter between themselves for a few more minutes, before Barry hears a door across the way creak open, and aside from the foot steps approaching, the room goes silent.
"Yeah," Lewis laughed, and Barry did all he could not to tense up at his voice.
"This will hurt that little bitch just right." Lewis continues, leaning down so close that Barry can smell his damn breath. He can't help it anymore. He jerks back, throwing his head forward to headbutt Lewis full force. Lewis sputters as he steps back, and Barry feels a swell of pride at Lewis' bleeding nose. Lewis swears at him, calls him half a dozen demeaning slurs, and and hits him with a backhand. Barry takes it, gritting his teeth and holding tight to where his hands were bound.
"I was just going to ransom you," Lewis tells Barry.
"Send over a finger or two. But now, now I think I'll just slice you open and leave you somewhere for him to find." He threatens, and Barry does everything in his power not to roll his eyes.
"Why does it bother you so much that he got out?" Barry asks, meeting Lewis' eye unafraid. Lewis' eyes widen a fraction, before the expression melts into a scowl.
"No one gets out." Lewis snarls. There's a crash outside, turning everyone's attention, and Lewis is motioning for the two grunts to check it out. When they don't return after a second, Lewis pulls a knife to Barry's throat and waits.
The door kicks open, and Leonard Snart strolls in, goggles over his eyes, and cold gun slung over his shoulder.
"You stop right there, I will kill him!" Lewis snarls out.
"The flash can take care of himself." Cold says plainly, and despite the confusion, Barry takes the moment to faze out of Lewis' grasp and stumble a few feet away.
"What the hell?"
"You know, the one good thing about this timeline is that I get to kill you all over again." Cold tells Lewis darkly, before aiming the cold gun. Barry tries to protest, but Lewis is frozen solid instantly. Snart steps forward, punching full force across Lewis' jaw, shattering him.
"Wait," Barry breathes out, following Cold out the door. He jogs a little to reach Len down the side walk.
"Len." Barry almost asks, touching Len's forearm just gently. Len pulls himself out of reach.
"I should have known, of course it's you." Snart huffs.
"What?" Barry asks again.
"You're the reason I'm here, and not-" Len cuts off his sentence, but Barry's heart races. -not dead. He's here, and not dead.
"How." Barry asks demandingly, yet still too afraid to ask the full question, in case he's wrong. Snart watches him coldly.
"You changed the timeline." Snart starts knowingly. Barry just nods.
"Well now you're going to change it back, after that, you go to the legends, have them give you a full lecture on the dangers of time travel and you can call it a day." He huffs, and Barry feels that dread set in.
"I can't-I can't change it back, Len. I can't... I can't fix this." Barry was almost shaking, emotions raw and still feeling unreal.
"This is the fixed timeline." Barry continues.
"It's as close to the old timeline as we can ever get." Barry keeps explaining, keeps trying to, but more and more anger is slipping through Captain Cold's mask.
"I did everything I could to fix it. And I didn't know you'd be rich and famous, but it's gotta be better than being in jail or dead-"
"I lost everything!" Cold yells, almost desperate. Barry stares at him in shock.
"My rogues, my legends, hell my sister hardly talks to me! I died in a place behind time and woke up strung out with a needle in my arm!" Cold is yelling at Barry, who can't do anything but watch.
"I thought I lost my mind Barry." Len said a tone softer, but eyes showing something frantic like fear.
"Len," Barry started, but Cold met his eye menacingly.
"Don't. You don't get to call me that. You should fucking know better, flash." Cold looked Barry over again hesitantly, but hurt.
"You're suppose to be better than that." Cold huffed, before getting on his motorcycle and driving away.
Len bought a bottle of scotch in cash, the cashier giving his costume a strange look, but saying nothing. He needed something familiar, some sense of the home he died for. He drank as he walked, and found himself walking down the tracks by the neighborhood he and Lisa grew up in. He charged up his gun to feel the cold creep up his arm, and drank half the bottle before calling.
"Lenny, don't think I don't know what time zone you're in." Lisa sighs.
"Tell me about school." Len asks.
"What? Lenny are you ok?" Her tone is worried and rushed.
"Well I'm not in danger, if that's what you're asking." Len almost laughs.
"Please, Lis, just talk to me."
"You never ask about school." She huffs, but tells him anyways.
"My grades are up; I'll have my degree in no time. And the campus here is beautiful. I have plenty of time to really appreciate it between my second and third classes, so I take a lot of walks."
"What about everything else. Are you; are you happy?" Len asks, taking another swig as he gracefully falls to sit overlooking the tracks.
"Sure. How could I complain?" She replies almost easily.
"You have enough people in your life?" Len asks, and Lisa is quiet on the other end for a while.
"Lenny what's wrong. Since when do either of us have people in our lives." She's quiet, and Len lets out a strangled sigh.
"I started seeing this guy." Len tells her.
"That's... kind of huge." Lisa replies softly.
"It's over now. He wasn't who I thought; or maybe he was exactly who I thought, but I'm not who he thought." Len almost laughs into the phone.
"Because of the drugs?" She asks. It's not accusatory, but it's sharp.
"No, no, I told you, I'm done with that." Len huffs.
"He was a good guy, Lis. You know how the good guys are." He explains, half bitter.
"Yeah. Yeah, I know. People aren't really worth it in the end." She agrees.
"What about friends? You got any?" He asks, and she scoffs.
"What did I just say. People ain't shit." She explains again. It's quiet for a minute as Len figured out what to say.
"What about Mick?" He finally asks, but she's still quiet.
"Quite a long time ago now."
"Yeah. Should've never left him there." Len admits.
"Careful, Lenny. You know you'd have never made it this far cleaning up his messes."
"Sure. Life'd be different." He shrugs, slumping back against the grass.
"Sleep it off, Lenny." Lisa sighs.
"Sure thing, Lis. Thanks for answering." Len replies easily.
Ok! There have been so many chapters that I've written from Len's POV, but that just weren't right. So this is the first to make it in lol. Hope you guys enjoy :)
Len woke up more hung over than he’d been since he was a teenager. At least, in his real life. It hadn’t been more than a few weeks in this one. Apparently he bought himself a hotel room last night. Len scoffed. The place was pretentious.
He dragged his feet on the way to the bathroom, washing his face blearily in the sink. He might actually throw up. Something crinkled and poked at him from his pocket, and Len lazily smoothed out the paper.
The sink was still running as Len read it over, laughing pathetically to himself. Song lyrics; he was writing music again-still. He crumples it up, struggling with himself, but can’t bring himself to throw it away. What was even the point? This wasn’t who he was anymore. There’s this stupid rage building that he can’t cool off, and he yells, punching the mirror in front of him. For a minute it almost feels good. He stares into the shattered mirror for a minute too long.
“You in there McCulloch?” Len asks, his voice still raspy. The mirror doesn’t answer, and Len isn’t at all surprised.
When he turns his phone on, there are missed calls and texts. They assume he and Barry left early and spent the night together. Len almost laughed. Plenty of people had seen Barry get pulled away, kidnapped, but Len knew none of them would say a thing. Not until it became a helpful piece of gossip down the line. That’s how these people are. He sends out a group text to the band, sending over the new songs. He was sure they wouldn’t be happy, but that was how it’s always been. He’d spent this life in the business, and he knew they were replaceable. He was not.
His people sent a car for him, and Len had the driver run into the local hardware store to pick up a few things. Nothing specific, nothing too unusual. Just what he’d need to get a basic start on his gun upgrades. The rest would have to come later.
The phone rang a few times before Barry finally answered.
"Hello?" He asked flatly, face still half pressed into his pillow.
"Morning dude; I'm not interrupting anything right?" Cisco teases, and Barry just sighs.
"No, I'm home. What's going on?" Barry asked, slowly sitting up, and running his free hand over his face.
"Your new protege is here making a mess of my training room."
"Oh, yeah. Ok. On my way." Barry sped through getting ready, still feeling sluggish and numb. Yesterday had been so unexpected, and Barry still didn't know how to process it. He had Snart's number, he could call, or text; they could talk it out. Barry looked at his phone, wincing at the calls and texts he'd missed since turning his phone off in the limo. It had felt like so long ago already.
He sped into the star labs training room in full Flash gear, smiling a little at Magenta.
"Flash! Look, look!" Magenta grinned, using her powers to levitate off the ground a few inches.
"Wow. That's cool." Barry replied encouragingly.
"I bet I could fly once I practice enough!" She brags.
Training Magenta proved to be the perfect distraction. He'd zip around the room, replacing the targets Magenta would knocked down, and pausing to describe how different the field work was. Magenta was hovering her way through their obstacle course when Cisco made an annoyed sound.
"Everything ok?" Barry asked.
"Fine, I just have to debug the security system again this weekend. I swear, every few months this thing starts acting up." He huffs.
"Our security system? You're sure it's nothing to worry about?" Barry asks almost nervously.
"No, no. It's not even reading anything, it's just this little hiccup, see?" Cisco tilted his tablet towards Barry, showing him where the recorded readings seemed to stop and start again for just the briefest second.
"Happened last night. It’s different than the glitches we've come across before, but it should be an easy fix once I have the time for it." Cisco shrugged.
"At least it's stopped flagging raccoons as imminent threats." He laughed.
"Flash, look! Look!" Magenta called out, just in time for her to stumble across the bridge she had created with her powers.
Magenta trained with them for most of the day, before anxiously packing up that evening.
"So I can come back?" Magenta asks nervously.
"Yeah, of course." The flash grinned.
"Here, you can call or text us when you're on the way over, and we'll get the training course set up for you." Cisco explains, giving her the star labs number.
"Awesome." She replies quietly, smile shining.
"So Big Belly Burger?" Barry asked, once it was just the two of them. They eat in the training room after the few minutes it took for Barry to run out for it.
"Surprised Caitlin and Dr Wells didn't stop by." Barry mentioned, trying to remain casual.
"Yeah, Caitlin had some family thing. And Dr Wells? Well, the man's family, but that doesn't mean I can picture him spending any time around kids." Cisco laughed, and Barry had to agree there.
"You haven't said anything about the big date. Am I suppose to ask? Or not?" Cisco asks nervously after a minute. Barry just sighs.
"I-I don't know. It's complicated." Barry shrugs.
"If he hurt you, I can do the best friend revenge bit." Cisco offers, and Barry laughs.
"Seriously. Say the word, and I can hack into his Facebook and upload a bunch of... I don't know. Something really off brand. Oh, I know, we'll fill his social media with marshmallow peep ads." Cisco explains, snapping along as he thinks it through. Barry can't help his laughter. Hacking into Captain cold's social media for revenge?
"Maybe someday." Barry replies with a smile.
"I think he just needs some space. I've been thinking about calling, but I don't know. I mean I should; I don’t want to wait until before his show tomorrow." Barry explains.
"Barry, you're dating a rockstar. I have no advice for that. But if you need to talk, I can at least listen." Cisco offers.
"Thanks, man." Barry replies, slapping his hand on Cisco's shoulder in appreciation. Cisco gasps, and Barry pulls his hand back.
"Dude, are you ok?" Barry asks almost frantically.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm good. I just, I think maybe I should call it one. Rest up." Cisco brushes it off, already moving to head out.
"Cisco, hang on, wait." Barry huffed.
"This isn't the first time you've done this." He almost asked. Cisco took a breath, not looking at him.
"It's not something I really want to talk about, alright? Maybe some other time." Cisco shrugs, not waiting for an answer before leaving quickly.
Wow, lots of lyrics in this chapter...
Evanescence-The Game is Over
MISSIO-the darker the weather the better the man
Barry was awake, ready, and nervous by the time James arrived.
“Well this is a surprise.” James grins.
“Yeah, you ready?” Barry’s asks, pushing past James and locking the door behind them.
“Sure thing.” James agrees easily, watching Barry with amusement.
“You know you never told me how it went.” James tells Barry, purposely dragging his feet on the walk back to his car, just to see Barry fidget and pace impatiently.
“I even thought about taking it personally!” He teases.
“James, look,” Barry huffs.
“I didn’t really tell anyone. Len and I just really need to talk, so,” Barry explains, glancing to the car every so often in the conversation.
“Ok! Alright, I get it, but I’m not speeding any more than usual, ok? I don’t need another ticket.” James grins.
Barry’s staring out the window on the drive, leg bouncing.
“So, you know we could talk about it. We have the time.” James offers, breaking the silence.
“I think he was really hurt.” Barry sighs.
“What did you do?” James asks, almost nervously, but Barry just shakes his head.
“I’d rather not... I just don’t know where we stand right now.” Barry shrugged, watching out his window again. It’s quite for a while before James fiddles with the radio, and death wizard plays through. Barry nearly snorts in amusement, memories filtering through. James starts to sing along badly, although not altogether inaccurately, and Barry joins him for the high notes.
By the time they’re finally parked, Barry can’t help his smile.
“You know just get me started and I can set up the rest on my own.” James offers.
“Thanks, but, I don’t know yet.” Barry shrugs. They head in, working next to each other in relative silence. They’re halfway through their work when the doors clang open and Len’s security leads them in. Barry’s on his feet before he can think it through; moving to follow them back stage. A heavy hand stops him at security. Len doesn’t so much as look at him. Barry turns to the security team.
“Curtis?” Barry asks.
“Whatever happened, give him time.” Curtis shrugs, and motions Barry back out to the floor.
Barry sulks his way through setting up, and lets James lead him back out to the car without complaint.
“Give it time.” James offers quietly, as the two sit across from each other, a large assortment of fast food between them.
“I guess.” Barry shrugs. He tries to keep up a conversation, but he keeps thinking back to what to say to Len, when he finally gets the chance.
When they’re back in the audience, when the opening band starts up, Barry’s still trying to figure it out. When Winter Storm finally takes the stage, Len won’t even look towards him. The music starts immediately, Len doesn’t even stop to introduce themselves.
Boring into my soul
Cut through, and make me whole
Feeling them pull me down
Pull me down
You can't take me from the high line
Hiding in the night time
Take me from their lies
So don't call me a hero
I just want to let go
Got me feeling caged in
I can't hold the rage in
Your prison's not my home"
Len looked right at him for just a second, just long enough to dig the words in.
Something that's bought or sold
Controlling what we know
Something we're always told"
The crowd was wild, but to Barry it felt like static; like Len had frozen Barry to the spot and was screaming just to him. After the song, during the rage of the crowd, Len seemed to fade into himself, leaning over the mic as the next song began. Len leaned back, whistling the tune flawlessly.
“Woke up this morning feeling cynical; typical.”
He looked defeated, tired. It was a look Barry wasn’t actually used to.
“Trying to rub the sleep out of my bloodshot eyes, did I just die? Blah blah blah blah blah.”
He rolled his eyes, lethargic in his movements this time.
“I’ve been feeling self destructive, but I love it. I can’t help myself,”
he meets Barry’s eyes briefly, but coldly.
“Your taste is so seductive, I’m feeling
Dizzy dizzy dizzy,
In my mind, can’t rewind.
Dizzy dizzy dizzy,
All the time, that’s my life.
Front in’ about my day,
I’m feeling criminal, Habitual,”
Len still had Barry in some kind of trance, as Barry tried to decode the music and hear the conversation Len was trying to have.
“I try to hide my pain behind a broken smile,
So out of style.
I’ve been feeling self destructive, but I love it
I can’t help myself your taste is so seductive
Dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy on my mind
Dizzy dizzy dizzy dizzy all the time.”
He wasn’t looking at Barry, in fact he didn’t seem to be looking up much at all. The next song started up, and Len took a shaking breath.
Golden skies, you will always be there.
In the mirror, in my eyes, you will always be there.”
This one was slow, instrumental. Barry had a brief thought that it sounded like their early work.
“Where do we go now
that I have seen the turn?
Where do we go now?
Find a way to go back,
To go back home
To who we are”
Len looked fragile. It was a thought that hurt Barry through his chest. He looked vulnerable, and yet still larger than life. And in a moment that vulnerability turned volatile.
I’ve really, had enough!
Had enough of denial!
I’m not alright, but I’m not gonna lie,
I don’t know that I ever was.”
This was his third album. Barry felt frozen all over again; it was a brand new song, like all the others, but every aspect of it, the build of it, belonged in the album so aptly named ‘forgotten’.
“All alone, I’ve waited,
Held it in as I play by your rules.
I’ve been biting my lip,
But I’m losing my grip,
I’m going down, down, down.
When all the hate burns off I’m left here with the pain.
Behind our vain devices, are we all the same?
Into something I believe in
So I don’t have to pretend!
Sweet words! They mean nothing! They’re not true, cause the game is over!”
Len looks right at Barry.
“I want it all, or I want nothing, at all,”
and just as suddenly he’s back to looking away.
“Maybe I can
Into something I believe in.
So I don’t have to pretend.
Your sweet words, they mean nothing, save your breath,
Cause the game is, over!”
Len let the song end as the building erupted in noise. It sounded straight off of the third album. And in stark contrast, the next song started off something futuristic. It made the last song, and the whole third album, feel far away, nostalgic.
“Distant. Everything is scattered. When your mind is shattered, and torn apart.
In an instant, I can be indifferent,” he shot a cold look to Barry just briefly.
“The blame is always shifted from the start.
Leafless treetops in the snow,
Views of death and bitter cold.
But the darker the weather, the better the man.
You can take all you want, but not who I am.
The darker the weather, the better the man.
You can take all you want, but not who I am.
You can’t take my,
Sun shines, through an open window,
Close the curtains real slow to hide the light
But in time maybe I can change it
We’ll find someone who feels the same as me
You broke me down and stole my soul
Left me vacant and alone
But the darker the weather, the better the man.
You can take all you want, but not who I am.
But the darker the weather, the better the man.
You can take all you want, but not who I am.
You can’t have my,
You can’t have my soul
You can’t have my soul,”
Len was singing raw, and Barry could do nothing but take it in. Despite the roaring crowd around him, Barry watched as Len took a moment to compose himself, his hands seemed to be shaking.
“As I’m sure you all realize,” Len began, addressing the crowd.
“This stop on my tour has been something special. So, to show my appreciation, for you indulging all the new music, I figured we could play an old fan-favorite. One that’s come to have a new meaning to me these last few weeks.” Len explains, expression soft, vulnerable.
Barry has to steady himself when the music began. He knew it, straight from the third album.
“Playground, school bells ring, again,” there were rumors about this song.
“Rain clouds come to play, again.
Has no one told you she’s not breathing?
Hello, I’m your mind, giving you someone to talk to, hello.” One of the band members let it slip that Len had lost someone. There was a car accident.
“If I smile and don’t believe,
Soon I know I’ll wake from this dream
Don’t try to fix me, I’m not broken” oh my god. Barry watched as Len shook with the emotion of the song. From the close spot of his vip section, Barry could see actual tears slip down Len’s cheek.
“Hello, I’m the lie, living for you so you can’t hide,
I don’t cry,
Suddenly I know I’m not sleeping!
Hello, I’m still here, all that’s left of yesterday,”
Barry felt weak, watching Len breathe ragged breaths before he walks over, handing the guitarist the mic, and walking backstage. The crowd behind him is roaring. Barry’s numb. Cold cried; Len was mourning.
Lens hands were shaking as he poured himself a drink in his trailer. He watched his reflection wearily before he takes a long swig. Over his shoulder, Barry fazes through the wall.
“Flash.” Len greets casually.
“Len, I just want to talk.” Barry starts, as gently as he can.
“Fine. Then talk.” Len replies easily, but still doesn’t turn around.
“I know I screwed up; trust me, I know this world isn’t...” Barry struggles a bit, before continuing.
“I know it’s not the way it was.” He finally settles on.
“I never meant to hurt anyone.” Barry explains. Len waits a moment, and when it seems Barry’s not going to continue, he sighs.
"Ok, kid. I’ve heard you out. Time to go." He says all without looking at Barry.
"Cold, you don't have to do this alone." Barry replies firmly.
"Three more shows, then my band goes back on tour." Len says.
"Why? Len, you were one of the Legends, you don't have to-you could-"
"What, join you?" Len nearly snapped, turning over his shoulder, but still not looking at him directly. He knew Barry looked hurt, and Len hated how it twisted his gut.
"You should leave, Flash." Len tells him, taking another swig of his whiskey. After a minute, Barry fazes back through the wall, and Len's left alone again.
"At least you left me with plenty to sing about." Len huffed quietly.
He works on his gun until late that night, before going for a drive. He thinks maybe he’ll stake out Mercury labs for some new parts, or maybe he’ll burgle some better tools.
Instead he finds himself parked down the road from the Rogue’s old house. He isn’t surprised to see it on the market. It’s at the far west end of the city, the air reeking of pollution and asphalt, and the small airport down the street making the sounds unpredictable. Unless you happened to have a genius living there who had super charged the air filter and soundproofed the whole building, it wouldn’t be the most comfortable residential choice.
The house itself was very large, a total of nine bedrooms spread across its three stories, and a basement they had converted to three rooms; a workshop, a gym, and a medical space. Len, like all the rogues, had never been one for the concept of home, but they had made this house as close as any of them had ever come. He stares at the sign for a few moments before he saves the realtor’s number in his phone.
He lets his band members choose the songs for the next few shows. He'd play along, for now, but he had more important things to focus on. They asked him in unsure tones if they could choose from any album, and Len agreed without a thought. What did it matter anymore?
He thought through, one by one, how he could see them. How he could change this world to be something more like home. In the end, it all had to start with this.
Len pieces together the gloves, and the device exactly how Hartley had shown him in the last life. That was the rogues true strength, after all; they all knew each other's tech. And they all knew how to break the others out of lock up.
The next day, and Len was breaking into Star Labs again.
Hartley tried not to show how startled he was as his cell began moving. He felt the cold rage bubble up in his chest as he waited for team flash, but as the outer doors parted, Hartley saw an unfamiliar figure.
"Well this is a surprise." Hartley smirked.
"The Flash send a new face to try and get some new information?" He tried, but the man in the parka just laughed.
"I'm not with the Flash, Hart." He replied, too familiar for Hartley's liking.
"Do I know you?" Hartley sneered.
"Not yet. How would you like a job?" He asks, and Hartley has to laugh.
"Well let me out, and we can talk." Hartley offers, grinning like a snake in the grass.
"I'll let you out, Hartley, but at least take my card before you go back on your little revenge tantrum." Len strolls back to the console, plugging in the device he had spent all morning perfecting. The doors slide open instantly, and Hartley walks over to him cautiously.
"How did you do that?" Hartley asks, all too familiar with the safety protocols. Len hands the device to him.
"That is a long story; one I’m sure you’re particularly qualified to hear about, if you’re interested in the job, that is." Len offered.
"What's the pay?" Hartley asks.
"You'll get your cut. And in the meantime, you get your freedom, and a place to lay low."
There barely five minutes into the drive, before Hartley finally moves from staring to talking.
"Has anyone ever told you you look like Len Winters?" He asks suspiciously. Len huffs out an aggravated breath.
"I didn't notice before, with the goggles, and fuzzy hood, but now," Hartley muses.
"Of course why would Len Winters be driving this beater-" the car Len had stolen,
"And why would Len Winters be breaking into the flash's private prison?" He continues.
"You tell me, Hart." Len almost asks. Hartley is a literal genius, and Len was actually finding himself curious how he'd put it all together.
"Are you-oh my god. You actually are." Hartley smirks triumphantly. And Len sends him an exasperated glance.
"All that brain power, and that's where you stop? Come on, Hartley, let me hear your theories." Len prompts. Hartley's petulant, not sharing, but clearly still mulling it over.
"Two minutes until I drop you off; do you have a guess, or should I just tell you?" Len asks, and Hartley glares at him a little.
"Clearly you want to recruit a team." Hartley scoffs.
"Good start." Len almost chuckles.
"I don't have enough context." Hartley huffs defensively.
"You want a hint?" Len nearly teases.
"No. Drop me off, I'll figure it out before you get back." Hartley replies stubbornly.
"If you insist. And if you get bored, there's plenty of work to be done on the house." Len explains.
"Where the hell were you! You're on in ten!" Jeffery hisses at Len as he arrives backstage. He had ditched the stolen car, and walked back to his own before heading back here. He knew he had cut it close on time, but it wouldn't really matter.
He gets dressed in his trailer, and is following the rest of the band onto the stage in no time.
Len sings. He knows every song; knows he wrote them for a life he never lived, but remembers with unsettling certainty. He doesn't let it get emotional. The night before was a fluke; a way to drive home a point for the flash. After all, he wrote that song for Alexa; for her family. Here, he had never found out what a monster she really was. Here, he had been too late. Here, he had thought it was Mick's fault. It had been twenty years. And Mick would probably try to kill him the second he could, but Len owed him enough to try.
Len sings, and sings, and he doesn't see Barry in the crowd once.
HOLY SHIT GUYS!!! Finally!!!! I’ve been thinking about this fic for so long! And finally! Another character is finally brought in!! My god.
Also if anyone has any song/artist recommendations I would love to hear them!
“Barry!” Caitlin squeaks as she walks into the cortex. Barry’s in his flash gear and a star labs hoodie, the hood pulled over his face and tightened. He groans a little in acknowledgment, but just slumps further in the chair.
“Are you, are you ok?” She asks after a second.
“Yeah.” He pouts.
“I thought you were working a concert this weekend.” She says, and Barry just sighs.
“I am. I already set it up. I just wanted to go patrolling instead of watching this one, but Cisco changed the passwords." Barry explains tiredly, slowly pushing the hood out of the way to look at her. She was holding a file behind her back.
"What's that?" Barry asked, and Caitlin fidgeted nervously.
"Nothing. It's personal." She deflected, hesitantly moving it from behind her back, to holding it tightly in front of her.
"Oh, ok." Barry shrugs.
"How about I get us into the computer, and you get a start on your patrol." She offers, and Barry visually relaxed.
"Ok, thanks Caitlin."
Barry ran. Everything else was so screwed up, but when he ran, it all felt perfect. The fresh air, the speedforce; as long as he was running, he was home.
“There’s an apartment building on fire on Lake street.” Caitlin tells him through his ear piece.
“On it.” Barry ran, emptying the building of everyone and their pets, feeling a wave of gratitude and relief at how easy saving so many had become.
“Home invasion, 3rd and Statin.” Caitlin tells him. They go on like this for a while, until Dr Wells voice carries through the ear piece.
“You’ve missed you’re last few check ups, Barry. Come on back to the labs, and we can run a few tests.” Dr Wells orders easily, and Barry’s stomach turns. He knew he couldn’t avoid it forever. He had to play along.
“It’s getting pretty late, I’ll be sure to stop by on Monday, though.” But not tonight. Barry switched off his coms, before speeding home.
My god this was so hard to write. I just wanted to get back to writing Hartley lol
When Hartley explores the house, he finds it mostly bare of furniture, aside from a couch in the living room. There were a total of eight bedrooms, as well as a dance studio. None of the doors are locked, but all are closed, except one on the second level. The one with the open door has a shoebox labeled 'Hartley'. Inside there's a new version of his gloves, possibly even more streamlined than his own design. It was going to drive Hartley insane.
“Clearly you’re building a team, but what for?” Hartley thinks aloud once Len returns from the concert.
Len relaxes on the couch in the living room, a beer in his hand.
"Stick with the why, Hart, not the what for." Len offers, and Hartley makes a face.
"Either just tell me or let me solve it myself; I didn't ask for a hint."
"Fine." Len huffs, waiting almost a minute before bluntly hinting:
"Wait." Hartley watches Len with wide eyes for a minute, before pulling the device off the table.
"I taught you this? In the future-no, another timeline?" He grins slowly when he realizes he's got it, before Len watches the cogs start spinning. Hartley looks down at his new gloves in wonder.
"I designed this."
"We're a unique crew of thieves." Len tells him, and suddenly Hartley's walking around the house, looking it all over with new intent.
"How many of us were there?" He asks, and Len's proud how quickly he understands.
"Nine. There were nine of us." Len tells him proudly.
"So why a rockstar?" Hartley asks, not quite suspiciously, and Len just rolls his eyes.
"I don't know, Hart, I was in a band when I was younger. Sometimes it paid for dinner and beer."
"Different lives." Hartley muses.
"So what makes you think I'm the same 'Hart' you knew?"
"You're the same." Len tells him.
"Maybe a little more stir crazy than when we first met, but then again, last time you broke yourself out." Len tells him, and Hartley huffs.
"So what, you remember this other timeline, why?" Hartley nearly demands. Len just shrugs.
"Not sure, not yet." Len tells him. Hartley sighs.
"So what now? You collect us one by one, and hope they're all who they were, too?" Hartley asks, and Len shrugs.
"It starts with a job offer. And you will start with Axel Walker. Of course, the past will stay between us for now. We'll explain to the other Rogues when and if they're ready."
"Ok. Alright, Boss. Tell me how to pitch it.”
The next morning, Hartley found himself in a questionable neighborhood, ringing the door bell of a rather unkept house. A taller guy with dusty blond hair opens the door, looking Hartley over neutrally before blowing a bubble with his chewing gum.
"Yuh?" He asks lethargically.
"I'm looking for Axel." Hartley says, feeling the frown form. Axel squints back at Hartley, before he notices Hartley's gloves.
"Woah, cool!" Axel grins, suddenly whooshing by Hartley and lifting his arm. Hartley sputters, pulling his arm back instantly, and Axel seems almost apologetic.
"Sorry, cool gloves."
"Cool boots." Hartley frowns, admiring the lack of scorch marks.
"Do you want to make a super suit? Are we building a robot? Please say you're looking for me so we can sow chaos and all that junk and not for some boring legal reason or something." Axel almost begs him. It takes Hartley a second to wrap his head around the guy.
"I'm here to offer you a job," Hartley starts hesitantly, and Axel rolls his eyes, rocketing his way back past Hartley, and back into the house.
"Ugh, boring no."
"It’s illegal." Hartley adds in a rush before Axel can close the door between them. He pauses, thinking it through for a minute.
"Ma! I'm leaving!" Axel yells over his shoulder, before walking into Hartley's space and locking the door behind him.
“I’m listening.” Axel blows another bubble, before gliding past Hartley.
“So it’s a cult.” Axel almost asks, dipping his fries in Hartley’s ketchup casually.
“No! It’s not-well, I suppose one could make the argument for it,” Hartley huffs.
“Badass. You me and how many?”
“Besides me, you’re our first recruit. The boss has everyone hand picked.” Hartley explains, turning his plate to give Axel better access to the pool of ketchup.
“I’m flattered, but I’m more a last recruit kind of guy; you know, I show up late to the party, see who’s there, if I want to stick around,” he shrugs.
“Well, it’s just me for now.” Hartley rolled his eyes, arms crossing defensively.
“Well then I guess it’s a good start.” Axel grins.
“So are you going to tell me more about those gloves?”
“I could show you once we get back to the safe house. If you’re accepting the offer, of course.” Hartley shrugs.
“Oh cool, safe house. Ok. I’m in.” He beams, and his smile actually got to Hartley a bit. He never would have thought a criminal with a contagious smile would be a requirement of this little group, but he supposed it made sense. Someone like that could easily be underestimated.
Axel was not what he thought Len Winters’ criminal organization would be like at all. He was loud, moving with seemingly ceaseless energy, but at least he was smart. Not smart enough to keep up with Hartley, of course, but smart enough to accept that. Smart enough to see Hartley's value, without ever questioning it, or ever putting Hartley on the defensive.
"Oh cool vaulted ceilings," Axel grin, up in the air the second Hartley leads him into the house.
"Furniture will still be arriving over the next few days." Hartley explains, watching Axel's boots carefully.
"Are those suppose to be sparking?"
"Oh yeah, they do that if I go high enough." Axel explains proudly.
"Look, we have a workshop started downstairs-" Hartley starts, and Axel is dropping, landing gracefully in front of Hartley.
"Hell yeah, let me see what you've got!"
It had been a long time since Len had done a daylight burglary, but it was really just a standard milk run through one of many research facilities. He could walk this one blindfolded. He went through the motions, loading up on specialty materials that use to be common place in the Rogue household. He slung the bag on his back, slipping out the door easily. There was plenty of time left to drop everything off, talk with Axel, and make it in time for his next concert.
Len had no doubt that Hartley could convince Axel to play along. In the original timeline, they had hit it off immediately; and something had changed in Hartley from that moment on. Len didn't think there ever was a time when Axel wouldn't follow Hartley anywhere.
Still, finding them elbow deep in each other's tech already was a bit of a surprise.
"Because sparks are never a feature." Hartley explains, deadpanned.
"But it only turns on if I'm high enough." Axel pouts.
"If you want this upgrade, I need the space. Besides, you're going to start something on fire."
"I think they look cool. And, what if you fix them, and then I need to set something on fire?" Axel argues playfully.
"I already have an arsonist in mind for that." Len says from the top of the stairs, still in his full gear.
"Boss." Hartley waves, only giving the interruption a moment before focusing back on the parts of Axel's anti-gravity boots.
"Trickster, good to see you." Len smirked.
"Trickster? Really?" Axel grinned up at him.
"They call me Captain Cold; or they will." Len shrugs, walking slowly down the steps as he introduced himself.
"You can call me Cold, or you can call me Boss, like Hartley here." He explains, looking between Hartley and Axel with authority for a moment before turning to Hartley.
"You two eaten?" He asks, and Hartley quirks a brow.
"Not dinner." He says cautiously.
"Good. Delivery's on its way. Go see to it while I talk to Axel." Len orders, and Hartley makes a face but nods, leaving the pieces of Axel's boots, and his gloves pulled apart. Axel sends Hartley a pleading glance, but Hartley doesn't seem to notice. Len sets down the new supplies, before he drags over a chair, leaving Hartley's chair still close to Axel's.
"Wow, that's really smart." Axel points out, still clearly intimated.
"Get the cute guy to flirt with me, pull apart my boots so I can't make a quick exit, appeal to my ego by calling me by my dad's moniker," Axel lets out a whistle.
"So what now?" He asks, watching Len curiously, but still entirely restless.
"Now's the part where I tell you that I expect complete loyalty. You earn your cut whether you’re on the mission, or at the house. You ever want out, you can walk whenever you like, but if I plan for you to be somewhere, you'll be there, or you’re out."
"No... death threats?" Axel asked, more caution in his voice than Len had expected.
"No. You're father was a murdering piece of shit. The Rogues don't kill, not unless absolutely necessary. We have rules and a code. You stick by them, and you follow orders.” Len tells him. His words hang in the air for a few moments.
“Did you know him?” Axel asks, and Len takes a minute to think it through.
“Not well, luckily.” He finally lands on.
“So why me?” Axel asks, almost shy, and still fidgeting. Len smirks for a minute, before getting up and heading back up the stairs.
“I like the boots.” Len answers easily.
Dinner was Thai food, and Axel was a little more on edge. Somehow, they had ordered his favorite. Axel found himself unusually quiet through their meal.
“You find the others yet?” Len asks, and Hartley hums a little.
“All four seem to have mysteriously vanished in the last three years, which means it’s a good bet they’re holed up in star labs. I just have to hack their system to double check. Won’t take long.” Hartley shrugs.
“Good. I’ll swing by there tomorrow to let them out and make the pitch.” Len nods, before getting up to clean his plate.
“If the others agree, I trust you’ll be welcoming.” He adds.
“Of course, Boss.” Hartley shrugged. He did plenty of digging on that list of names beyond just their current whereabouts. It was... definitely curious. Ultimately in Hartley’s eyes, there were two lowlifes, an assassin, and a painter. But of course that was before the particle accelerator explosion. Hartley was plenty intrigued enough to try and play nice, even if they weren’t all as companionable as Axel had turned out to be.
After the boss left, and it was just the two of them again, Axel seemed to relax.
“That guy is intense, but in a cool way. Ha, I mean like he’s the kind of guy I’d want to take me fishing, or teach me to fish. Not that I want to learn to fish, ick, no. And I can’t see him fishing either, but he seems like he’d be good at it, you know?” Axel asks, nervously packing up the food and putting the left overs away while Hartley washed the dishes.
“You make him sound like a dad.” Hartley snorted.
“Oh.” Axel frowned. Hartley dried his hands, watching Axel carefully.
“Daddy issues?” Hartley asks.
“No! Yes, but he is not my type!” Axel replies defensively, and Hartley just laughs.
“Well, you can come by the house any time, being a rogue means you live here, but you don’t have to stay. If you go, we can get ahold of you when it’s time to work, and if you stay, your room’s across the hall from mine.” Hartley explains easily.
“Oh. Well, I mean are you staying here alone?” Axel asks shyly, biting his lip a little. Hartley quirks a brow.
“The boss comes and goes as he pleases, and the others are likely to start arriving in the next couple days.” Hartley replies carefully.
“Oh. So if I wanted to make a move, you’re saying I should do it now.” Axel almost asks, heart flying.
“What?” Hartley says dumbly, before Axel tilts Hartley’s face over gently, and kisses him softly.
“Wait, what?” He asks, as Axel leans away with a grin.
“Was that too... what’s the word, forward, I guess. Should I have asked you out first? Probably, right? You know I never really do this. I guess I should have thought to practice this in case I met someone like you, but those kind of things just never really occur to me, you know?” Axel asks curiously.
“What?” Hartley asks again, mind reeling.
“I kissed you.” Axel explains.
“I-I know, I was there.” Hartley tried to huff, but he could feel the blush rising, and the tremble in his words.
“Was that ok?” Axel asks, seemingly just realizing Hartley’s discomfort.
“Why? Did you kiss me?” Hartley manages to squeak out.
“Because you’re super cute and smart and we’re going on this crazy adventure together. Can’t you feel it too?” Axel asks, as though the chemistry between them was undeniable, obvious. Hartley actually laughs a little.
“You’re very cute, but I’m not ready for a relationship, right now.” Hartley says, but let’s himself really look over Axel, from his dusty blond hair, dark blue eyes, his toned and lanky frame.
“You know what, I could maybe do with a bit more information, before I stick to that.” Hartley amends, looking back to Axel’s brighten expression.
“Should I ask you on that date?” Axel asks nervously.
“You should kiss me again.” Hartley tells him. Hartley's mind was running a mile a minute; were he and Axel together in the old timeline? God he was a great kisser. What if this was a very bad idea; hooking up with someone he's just signed on to work with for the foreseeable future. Wow, Axel really is hot.
"Bed," Hartley pants out, and Axel almost whines.
"If I had my boots I could sweep you off your feet and whisk you up there." He explains between kisses.
"Next time." Hartley compromises, huffing out a laugh.
The crowd boomed, and Len felt the music thrumming through his skin. His own voice projecting and reverberating out of him; an almost other worldly experience. He felt beyond his body, beyond his life. It was unreal, ripping himself open and letting out these emotions that he had always stifled. It felt like nothing Len had ever dreamed of.
In his trailer after the show, Len drank an ice cold bottle of water in one go, feeling the adrenaline high course through him.
"Hey." He heard Barry say in a worried tone. Len sighed.
"You know I asked security to stop you for a reason." Len says calmly.
"Look, I know your mad, and hurt, and you don't want to talk, but if you're leaving..." Barry made some kind of hurt noise.
"I need to know what all of this meant. We were good, before, right? We kissed, we were dating, right?" Barry asks, and Len hurts at the vulnerability in it. That hurt rises his anger, and he tries to cool it off, but it feels like bile in his throat.
"I just needed to find the flash to restore the timeline. I never expected you to kiss me, certainly never expected you to remember me." Len bit out. It wasn't the whole truth of it, but it wasn't entirely a lie either. And the sharp edge to his words served the flash right. It was his fault, after all.
"I used you, Barry, or tried to." Len explains bitterly.
"You don't mean that." Barry replied weakly.
"Leave, Barry. Before I call security." Len tells him, and after one more pleading second, Barry fazes back through the wall. Len only waits a second before he pours himself a better drink.
The next morning has Len in Star labs, plugging in his device outside the pipeline. The prison cells shifted beyond the door, and a windowless cell clicked into place. Len fiddled with his device for a minute more, until he was hacked into the speaker between them.
"I'd like to start by assuring you that I'm not with the flash." Len starts. Its quiet, but Len's sure Shawna could respond if she'd like.
"I broke in here to set you, and a handful of others, free. Still, I hope you'll understand why I'm making my pitch before I open the door." He waits a second longer, but she still doesn't reply.
"I'm putting together a team of thieves, and we'll need a medical practitioner on staff." He explain, and there's a snort of laughter.
"You want me to steal for you, or play nurse?" She asks bitterly.
"I'd like to hire you as our nurse, until you finish your degree, and can be our doctor. I'll pay for your schooling of course, and you'll have a room at our safe house; somewhere to lay low. Besides that, you'll be well paid, and you'll have a loyal crew beside you." He waits a second more before continuing.
"I don't expect an answer right away. My card is taped to the wall at the end of the hallway. I hope you'll consider my offer." Len wraps up before opening the door. The second it's open enough to see out of Shawna has teleported herself down the hall in a show of smoke. She pauses there, and Len waves a little at her. She nods, hesitantly, before taking his card from the wall and disappearing.
Len sighs, and waits a few minutes before pulling up the next cell. He adjusts his goggles, just in case, and waits for Roy's cell to align before him. The cell clicks into place, the tinted window a clear indicator of who the cell is for; however, Len frowns, the cell was empty. Len pulls up the next one, but Mirror Master's cell is empty as well. Len swears a little under his breath, before finally pulling up Mark's. It was far from ideal. Mark was a wild card, and was no doubt still reved up for revenge in this timeline. On the one hand, Len should wait, until he had more of a crew behind him. On the other hand, he had to know if this cell would be empty too.
The cell clicked into place, and Mark was glaring venomously at him through the window. Len almost laughed. Strange how even as wild and ruthless as this Mark still looked, it was damn good to see him.
"I'm going to fucking kill every one of you." Mark growls out, and Len laughs.
"I'm not with the flash, Mark. I'm here with a job offer." Len begins, and Mark considers him wearily.
"The pay will be more than worth it, but that isn't why you'll join." Len starts.
"I'm not talking about a single theft, or a big haul heist, Mark. I'm talking about a crew to stick by each other, to break each other out; a crew with real synergy." Len waits, trying to gauge Marks reaction.
"And what makes you think I'm the guy for that?" Mark asks carefully.
"You're cautious, when you're moving smart. I don't expect an answer today, Mark. Think it over, take my card. You can meet the others, run a few test heists to get the feel of it, see if it's the right move for you."
"Sounds pretty fair." Mark smiles at him, and Len knows to brace for shit to hit the fan.
"There's a catch, Mark." Len says firmly, authoritatively.
"You drop your petty vendettas. No personal vengeances. No killing. No maiming. No going after cops, or their families, or the flash. We don't need that kind of heat." Len explains. Mark just shrugs easily.
"Take my card. Think it over." Len tries carefully as he opens the cell door. Mark steps out casually, cracking his knuckles and his neck, before taking a breath of fresh air.
"Sorry pal, the answers no." Mark tells him as the gush of wind and hail kick Len off his feet, soaring down the hall. Len manages to ice behind him, sliding safely in his landing.
"I don't want to fight, Mark." Len huffs.
"Really? Because I've been cooped up for ages. I could really use one." He laughs. Len deflects the barrage of hail, a wall of ice protecting him.
"I'm not after anything Petty, pal. I'm out to kill the man that killed my brother. And the flash? Well, maybe that ones a bit petty, but he will pay." Mark was stalking towards Len, all that smart caution tossed out, and Len kicks down his wall, taking Mark down underneath it. Len presses the muzzle of the cold gun to Marks ankle, letting the cold build slowly as Mark squirmed.
"See that's not going to work for me. You don't have to take the job," Len began calmly, but Mark cried out in pain.
"But you will not get your revenge, and you will not kill the flash. Now, I could let you go," Len digs in a little deeper. It would heal, eventually.
"And maybe you'll smarten up enough where we won't have to have this conversation again. Or if you insist, I can toss whatever pieces of you are left back in that prison cell." Len straightens up, but replaces the muzzle of the cold gun with his foot, and presses.
"So tell me, Mark, what are you going to do?"
"Fuck off!" Mark huffs out, and Len lets up on the pressure.
"You're going to need to be more clear with me, Mark."
"Fuck you," he replied weakly. Len steps back, looking Mark over for a minute.
"Alright, come on." Len sighs, before hauling Mark up. Mark's not happy about it, but he lets Len take his weight and help him down the hall.
"You know until you, the flash would have never known I'd been here." Len huffs.
"Well sorry to disappoint." Mark bites back.
"Please, Mark. It was just a first impression." Len shrugs. Mark lets Len help him outside, and Mark shields his eyes as he looks up at the sky.
"Would you look at that." Mark says almost breathlessly.
"Bright open skies." Len acknowledged.
"I'm still not coming to work for you." Mark tells him.
"Just remember what I said. I'd hate to have to work against you." Len tells him. Marks takes a minute, before nodding hesitantly. A rush of wind twists past them, and Mark lifts himself into the air. He pauses again to look cold over, before flying away.
Len drives back to the house. He keeps an even speed, telegraphing each turn as he watches the puffs of smoke on nearby rooftops. At least he was one for four. He stops for pizza, and picks up a vegetarian deep dish.
"Boss! Uhm, hi." Hartley greets awkwardly as Len lets himself in. Len quirks a brow.
"Where's Axel?" He asks, and Hartley hesitates.
"He's... Spending the day with his mom." Hartley shrugs.
"Don't push him away, Hart, that's all I'm going to say." Len tells him as he sets the pizza on the table.
"Right. Clearly, we're both suppose to be on this team, and having this, complication, well it's not good for anyone." Hartley interprets. Len rolls his eyes, walking around the room to open the blinds.
"Then uncomplicate it." Len huffs.
"Were he and I... I mean do you know if he was?" Once again Len smiled at the knowledge that somehow only Axel could make Hartley's thoughts sound disorganized.
"It got to the point where we held an intervention to get you to sound proof your rooms. The materials should arrive soon if you'd want to get a head start on that." Len explains easily, and Hartley turns bright red.
"Is that vegetarian?" Hartley points at the pizza in a quick distraction.
"Shawna's favorite, if she plans to show." Len shrugs. Hartley stands around awkwardly for a moment.
"We're breaking an old friend out of iron heights tomorrow, so I'd like to meet with you and Axel in the morning." Len continues.
"Of course. So, how long were Axel and I together?" Hartley nearly blurts out. Len shrugs.
"Definition of a power couple." Len explains easily.
"Huh." Hartley drifts off for a second, and there's a knock at the door.
"You must be Shawna." Hartley says, as he opens the door.
"The boss got your favorite." Hartley explains with a gesture to the pizza.
"I'm going to, talk to Axel." He continues, a bit nervously, before walking past Shawna to the garage.
"So, this is the place?" Shawna asks cautiously as she walks into the house.
"Our safe house. The main one, at least. Help yourself." Len gestures to the pizza, before taking a piece himself.
"Who are you?" She asks, taking a seat across from him. She doesn't make a move to eat.
"The flash and his team named me Captain Cold. I've been rather attached to the name since." Len shrugs.
"And you're a thief." Shawna continues.
"I am." Len agrees. Shawna watches him nervously for a minute, before Len starts to cut up his pizza.
"Your rooms on the top floor. I had the telescope delivered, although it still needs to be set up. Your alias and new banking information are on the desk, and I've paid enough for you to stock up your room however you'd like." Len waves off.
"How long would I be staying?" She asks nervously.
"As long as you'd like." Len answers simply.
"And as long as I stay, and, what, patch up your guys, you'll pay my tuition?" She clarifies.
"The profit, of every job we pull, takes 25% to be distributed evenly to each Rogue, whether their skill set was needed, or not. 50% gets divided equally to the Rogues who were on the job, in addition to their original guaranteed share. The last 25% goes to the house." Len gestures around them.
"As our medical practitioner, your education is Rogues business, it has nothing to do with your payment." Len continues.
"What's the catch?" Shawna asks.
"I'm afraid you'll have to put up with a house full of criminals. Although only Hartley and Axel are staying here so far." Len shrugs. Shawna watches him carefully.
"And I can leave any time I want?" She clarifies.
"Of course." Len nods. Shawna waits for him to eat a bite before she continues.
"So why me?" She crosses her arms a little defensively.
"You could easily use the money to buy someone who already has their degree." She explains. Len thinks it through for a moment.
"Your powers are well suited for the job. And your moral compass will bring a sort of balance I expect to be needed, once some of the others arrive. Besides," Len stops to smirk a little at her.
"I kind of like having a vegetarian in the house." He continues to pick at his pizza, and Shawna slowly takes a piece for herself.
"Lou Malnati's?" She asks, and Len nods.
"Best deep dish in town." He agrees. He pretends not to notice how her hands shake a little as she eats, or how she's still eyeing the distance out the windows. He'd have to do something more drastic about that pipeline soon.
"Hey, Hartley," Axel greets, taken off guard as he opens the door, but smile genuine, none the less.
"I'm not saying I wasn't right, ok? I just think we're moving really fast." Hartley explains in a hurry. Axel just grins.
"Want to meet my mom?" He asks, and Hartley sighs.
"I suppose, but for the record, this is exactly what I'm talking about." Hartley explains, and follows Axel into the house.
"Ma, this is Hartley, Hartley, this is my mom." Axel introduces nervously. Hartley freezes as he walks in the room, the pity and dread pooling up.
"Now I know what your thinking, but she can get real wild." Axel laughs, plopping into the chair next to hers. Her hands are still on the armrests, and she's staring vacantly out the window.
"Mom, say hi, Hartley's my new boyfriend." Axel explains, squeezing her hand a little. Hartley would go into telling him how labels also fall into the 'moving too fast' category, but he still feels stuck at the front of the room.
"Is she; what happened?" Hartley asks, no idea how he should respond.
"She's just. Having a hard time, since dad died. Nothings wrong with her, though. Sometimes I come home and she's even walking around." Axel explains, almost bragging.
"She just doesn't talk much." Axel's watching his mother's face closely, as though trying to see any reply she might make.
"Does she have someone here? A nurse or something for when you're out?" Hartley asks, and Axel just shrugs, going to stand, and leading Hartley to the kitchen.
"The state pays for someone a few hours each night, but I don't think she needs them. She can take care of herself." Axel shrugs, digging through his freezer.
"I was going to make lunch, chicken fingers or something. You want some?" He asks, and Hartley just nods, despite knowing that frozen chicken fingers are not at all appetizing.
"What about you? Any family?" Axel asks casually.
"My parents, but I'm sure they've done their best to forget me." Hartley shrugs, not looking anywhere particular.
"Really? That's wild. You'd think they'd be stoked to have a super genius for a kid." Axel replies easily. Hartley softens a little at the easy compliment.
"The genius thing they were fine with, it was the gay thing that cut whatever ties I thought I had with them."
"Oof." Axel cringes.
"Yeah, that was about their response when I came out."
"That's dumb. I don't think my parents would have cared."
"Would have? Your mom...?" Hartley half asks.
"I was going to come out, you know. Had a big speech planned, something about Keanu Reeves, but I just, never got around to it. By the time I finally did, Dad was killed by those cops, and mom was already stuck like this. The whole speech felt kind of pointless, you know? So I just told her I like sucking dick. Figure she'd at least give me some kind of look." He shrugged again, and Hartley could tell he had gotten no reaction.
"How long has she been like this?" He asks softly.
"Four years this fall." He shrugs. The toaster oven dings, and Axel busies himself with lining up the chicken fingers.
"I'm sorry." Hartley wasn't good with this kind of thing, but Axel just smiles a little.
"It could be a lot worse. Could've happened when I was a kid. Could've stopped her heart. She's just heart broken, so, she can still recover." He explains it so easily, as though it hadn't been actual years.
“Your dad was probably the most well known criminal short of the mob families. Of course, everything's different now, with the meta humans.” Hartley says off handedly.
“Yeah. Who are the metas?” Axel asks.
“The meta humans? From when the particle accelerator exploded at Star labs? You don't watch the news a lot, do you?" Hartley sighed.
"Not so much. Dad use to be on the news a lot. I don't have a lot of memories of him being here-too busy living his crimes-but mom and I always stayed up late to cheer him on. I bet when we're the ones on TV she'll be here watching, though." Axel explains softly.
"Yeah. Sounds like she will." Hartley agrees, struggling a little.
“Here.” Hartley says softly, pulling out his phone, and googling the flash.
“The flash was caught on camera at this concert.” He explains, as Axel reads the article.
“Oh, woah, crazy. Hey, Winter Storm’s in town?” Axel asks.
“Uhm. I think tonight’s their last show.” Hartley frowned.
“Ah, bummer. You like concerts?” Axel asks, moving to flip the chicken fingers.
“Not so much. I have a hearing sensitivity.” Hartley shrugs.
“Oh, ok, so no concerts. Let’s see, picnics? Picnics are romantic.” Axel continues.
“Are you trying to think of an idea for a date?” Hartley laughs a little, that small blush returning.
“Hell yeah I am. Don’t get me wrong, my chicken fingers are top notch, but the romantic in me strives to please.” He explains cheekily.
“Well if last night was anything to go by, you please just fine.” Hartley replied, letting himself flirt right back.
Barry went through the motions numbly. Of course Cold didn't want him. Why would he?
"Hey, so," James started gently.
"We'll have to dismantle the set after." He shrugged, trying not to disrupt Barry's brooding.
"Yeah, I'll be here." Barry shrugs. He didn't want to be here, but it was better than being at star labs. Besides, it was Winter Storm's last concert in Central. Barry's last chance to talk to Len, even though he had made it clear he didn't want Barry stopping by.
Barry stopped, looking down at the equipment with trembling hands. If he could fix this, he would. Wouldn't he? To go back to Eobard being gone, but Len being dead, never meeting James, Eddie being dead. Of course he felt guilty, but this world wasn't all bad. He just had to get rid of Eobard, patch things up with Len, and then everything would be fine. When they finished setting up, Barry walked over to Curtis at security.
"He still won't see me?" Barry asks gently. Curtis sighs.
"Let me see what I can do." Curtis shrugs, taking pity on him. Barry fidgets when Curtis walks away, but eventually, he comes back with a nod.
"Don't expect much, but he said to let you through."
"Thank you, thanks, I'll just-" Barry motions towards the back, before cautiously walking back to Len's trailer. He knocks hesitantly.
"It's open." Len calls out, and Barry takes a breath before opening the trailer and letting himself in.
"Hey." Barry says softly. Len's leaning against the headboard of his bed, barely looking up from his book.
"Back again." Len observes.
"Last chance, right?" Barry asks nervously.
"Last chance for what, Barry?" He asks, finally setting his book aside and looking up at Barry.
"I just want things to be ok with us." Barry explains.
"And what does ok look like? What exactly do you want, Barry?" Len huffs.
"I-I don't know." Barry replies honestly, and Len is moving off the bed and into Barry's space.
"Let me take a wild guess." Len bites the words out like a threat, and Barry's backed against the wall.
"You want to keep dating the rockstar, keep talking about musicals and hockey, and snuggling on my bed. You want the man you made me into, but not the man I am." His voice is venomous, and Barry's voice is trembling.
"Len, please, I just want, I want you." Barry says, more clearly then he had even let himself think. Len watches him closely for a moment before pushing off the wall and pouring himself a drink.
"Give it time, Barry. You'll remember who I really am. Now leave. We'll talk more when I'm good and ready." Len says with an air of finality, not quite looking at Barry over his shoulder.
"Ok. When you're ready." Barry agrees, before letting himself out.
Barry's phone rings as he makes his way back out to the auditorium.
"Cisco, hey." Barry sighs.
"Hey man, no real rush, but something kind of weird happened. It's probably nothing, Dr Wells said it wasn't anything to worry about, but it doesn't feel right, you know?" Cisco explains in a hushed tone.
"Where are you?" Barry asks.
"I'm heading to big belly burger, why?" Cisco asks, and Barry finds somewhere private before speeding off.
"Cisco! Hey!" Barry calls, jogging up to him through the crowd.
"Hey, man? I thought you'd be at the concert." Cisco frowned, hanging up his phone.
"Well I'll have to go back, but what's up?" Barry asks. Anything that Dr Wells was trying to cover up clearly wasn't nothing.
"Oh. Well we got some water damage in the hallway by the pipeline." Cisco start, as he and Barry continue the walk.
"I told Dr Wells it could be some kind of water meta, but he said it was just the pipes leaking and that he'd call a plumber." Cisco explains.
"But if it was just the pipes, why wouldn't he have me do something about it, right? I am the jack of all trades around here, after all." Cisco huffs.
"What did Caitlin say?" Barry asks, and Cisco stops walking and lowers his voice a little more.
"That's the thing, Caitlin is still out of town with her family, so I took a sample of the water-"
"Wait, no, I saw Caitlin the other night." Barry interrupts.
"What? No, dude, she was suppose to be back Friday, but she texted me saying she was going to stay with her mom."
"She was definitely at the lab Friday night." Barry explains, and Cisco huffs.
"Ok, fine, then she must have gone back, the point is, I couldn't reach her, and she wasn't around to test the water, so, I ran some tests myself. Now, I'm no bioengineer, but I've been on this team long enough to know dark matter when I see it." He explains.
"So it was a meta."
"Maybe? Some of the tests were positive, and some weren't, so they could be false positives. Until Cait gets back it's kind of hard to say." Cisco shrugs.
"Like I said, it's probably nothing, it just didn't sit right." He shrugs.
"And Dr Wells doesn't know you ran any tests?" Barry asks, and Cisco looks guilty.
"No, he didn't want to know, so I figured, no reason to tell him unless we find something. I wasn't trying to hide anything!" Cisco defends.
"No, it's fine. Better he doesn't know just yet." Barry tries to reason.
"There's something else." Cisco adds with a frown.
"I looked through the security footage; I guess I thought I'd see where the water was leaking from, but it's like one minute nothing, and then boom it's all there." He pauses.
"Remember that security hiccup I mentioned?"
"This really isn't sounding like a leaking pipe."
"No, it's not. But if this is some kind of water meta, that means they've hacked into our system, and are after someone in the pipeline."
"And it means this isn't the first time they've hacked our system." Barry adds.
"I'd feel a lot better if you were there when I tell Dr Wells." Cisco says.
"Y-yeah, sure, just, not yet, ok? Lets just dig a little deeper before we bring him into this." Barry suggests.
"Axel," Hartley whined
"Axel wait," Hartley pushed Axel off of him a little, looking him over.
"Waiting," Axel tells him, eyes wandering.
"Shawna's upstairs." Hartley tells him.
"Who?" Axel asks in a way that makes it clear he doesn't really care at the moment. Hartley huffs, pushing Axel back a little further.
"Shawna, the new girl." Hartley explains, pushing past Axel and into the living room.
"I bet I can be quiet," Axel tries to tempt. Hartley laughs.
"We are not fucking tonight." Hartley explains clearly.
"Wouldn't want to make a bad impression. Besides, the boss will be here in the morning to talk to us. I guess we're doing a prison break for the next recruit." Hartley tells him as he digs through the fridge.
"Oh badass!" Axel grins.
"Are we inciting a riot? Blowing something up? Making a tunnel-digging robot to break into his cell?" Axel guesses, basically bouncing around Hartley.
"He'll probably just ask me." Shawna adds, popping into the room in a cloud of smoke. Axel makes a bit of a yelping noise, and Hartley laughs.
"That's so cool; meta humans." Axel grins, once he collects himself.
"A prison break is pretty risky." She continues.
"What makes him think we can get away with it without the flash coming at us?" She asks, taking the pizza box from Hartley and teleporting over to the microwave.
"Ew, just preheat the oven." Axel tells her.
"I'll just eat it in a bowl, it's fine." She shrugs.
"Do you want me to do it?" Axel asks, and she glares for a second.
"Knock yourself out." She finally shrugs, but watches him cautiously.
"The boss knows what he's doing." Hartley tells her, moving into the living room and out of Axel's way.
"And I'm just suppose to trust that?" She asks, following him out.
"I don't know what the boss expects from you, but I trust his judgment. You have any issue, take it up with him." Hartley explains.
"I would, if I knew how." Shawna huffs.
"He'll be by when he has time." Hartley shrugs, sitting at one end of the couch. Shawna watches him suspiciously for a minute, glances back at the kitchen, and finally sits at the opposite side of the couch.
"You're not what I expected when he said there'd be criminals living here." Shawna tells him curiously. Hartley laughs.
"That accurately covers my entire interaction with this adventure so far." Hartley can't help but look towards the kitchen fondly for a moment.
"How long have you been with him?" Shawna asks, and Hartley has a split second of pure hyperventilation.
"Oh Axel and I-I mean we just-we haven't known each other that long,"
"Oh-oh! I meant the boss! I meant work!" Shawna defends, embarrassed.
"Oh! Oh. Uhm. Not long. We're all kind of new to this, aside from the boss of course. The man has a vision, and so far, I'm invested." Hartley explains awkwardly, quick to derail from that misunderstanding.
"Huh." Shawna says quietly. There's a beeping from the kitchen.
"Ten minutes!" Axel calls out.
"My way would have been done by now!" Shawna yells back.
"Your way would have been soup." Hartley tells her with a glare.
"I'll find my own way there and we'll meet backstage Thursday night." Len explained.
"And stay here? Is this about that-Mr Allen?" Winston makes a face.
"That is none of your concern." Len tells him venomously, but Jeffery just rolls his eyes.
"Fine, fine, at least keep your security detail nearby." He waves off.
"I'll be fine."
"This is Central, you've been shot at here twice." He frowns, and Len just chuckles.
"I'll be fine. Central city has its own super hero. I'm probably safer here than anywhere." Len shrugs.
By the time Len has denied every security and lodging he could be offered, the rest of the band was already leaving. Len grabbed his things from the trailer, and headed home.
"Oh my god, you are such a movie snob!" Shawna snorts. Len smiles as he closes the door behind him.
"Hartley, Hart, Baby, just tell me what movie to put in." Axel coaxes.
"One-" Hartley sneers, and raises a finger,
"Don't call me baby, two," a second finger,
"Our library is pitiful, three-"
"Just pick something!" Shawna groans.
"Put on detective pikachu." Len tells them. The room tenses, but Len just brush past them, carrying his things into his room. Best case scenario, Mick would be just across the hall from him this time tomorrow. He takes his time unpacking, feeling conflicted on every item. He'd buy some new clothes soon, he'd have to. Even as Len Winters, he was thankfully smart enough not to carry any personal items, nothing to lead back to Lisa, or his old name.
He attached his holster, putting his cold gun on where it belonged. Goggles around his neck, parka on. He felt more human, more solid, more real.
He took a breath, before walking back out and down to the workshop. The living room was still quiet.
Taking apart his gun was so second nature, but his fingers still fumbled, muscle memory not quite connecting the way Len needed it to. He'd upgrade it soon, but tonight he wanted to reconnect with it as it is.
"Boss?" Shawna asks hesitantly from the top of the stairs.
"Shawna, glad to see you settling in." Len says offhandedly, still admiring each piece as he puts it all back together.
"Yeah. Hartley and Axel seem great." She says softly.
"Have you taken the time to check out your workspace?" Len asks.
"Not yet." She replies hesitantly.
"It's just through there, when you get the chance. Hopefully we won't be needing it for some time." Len shrugs.
"I heard your planning a prison break." Shawna says, still not moving too far from the stairs.
"Should be simple enough, but do stay close, and keep your phone on hand, just incase."
"It doesn't really sound simple. It sounds risky. What about the flash?" Shawna argues cautiously.
"The flash and I have an understanding, or we will. You don't need to worry about him at any rate, he'll be much more concerned with me. As for the prison break itself, trust me when I say the system is woefully unprepared for us."
"Look, it's no good; the logs say everything's normal, but if they've been hacking our systems, it would look normal!" Cisco huffs. It was early in the morning, and he and Barry were in the cortex, leaning over the main computer.
"Keep looking. There has to be something. I'll try Caitlin again." Barry sighs.
"Don't bother. Whatever family drama she has going on has clearly got her full attention. Her phones been off all day." Cisco huffed. Barry paused.
"You don't think we have to worry about her, right?" Barry asks. Cisco stops, before shaking his head.
"Caitlin's tough. And anyways, she can always hit that emergency button and we'll know to send you running."
"But she can't if she doesn't have her phone on." Barry explained.
"I get it. But Caitlin's really private about her family stuff." Cisco replied with an empathetic tone.
"It sucks being kept at a distance like this, but that's just how she is."
"Ok. Just, keep looking." Barry sighed.
"You two are here early." Dr Wells notes as he wheels in the room.
"Dr Wells." Barry greets nervously.
"Go on to the treadmill, I'll be right there." Dr Wells suggests.
"Oh, it's fine, we can walk together. Cisco's just debugging the security system. Hiccups." Barry explains nervously.
"Very well. I'd appreciate the company, really. I feel like you've been avoiding us recently." Dr Wells jokes as he joins Barry down the hall.
"Oh, ah, no, just busy with work. The big job." Barry explains, very on edge.
"Yes, the concert, I saw on the news." Dr Wells says plainly.
"Y...yeah." Barry sighs.
"There's no going back now, the whole world knows you're out here. It's bound to catch some unwanted attention." Dr Wells explains.
"Yeah. I know." Barry almost winces. Talking with Dr Wells, Eobard, like this, it was still so conflicting. It was scary how easy it was to fall back into feeling that he was still a mentor. It was pretty terrifying in general.
The plan wasn't one he'd choose in the old timeline. It was too risky when the guards of iron heights knew him, but here, he could blend. Funny, considering he was more world renowned here, but who would expect to see a rockstar in guards clothing. Len nodded at the security camera as he used the card Hartley whipped up to let himself in. He whistled a little as he strolled down the hall, stopping outside Mick's cell.
"You have a visitor." Len smirks. Mick glances at him from the bed, a puzzled expression growing.
"Funny fallback career you got there rockstar." Mick huffs.
"Hilarious. Mind getting closer to the bars so I can help you out?" Len asks. Mick watches him carefully, but walks over and leans against the bars.
"If you're going for a break out, your planning's a bit rusty. Uniform or no, they ain't gonna just let you walk me out." Mick huffed.
"I got someone standing by." Len explains with a flourish, and the wall behind Mick blows out. Mick flinches, but Len just casually unlocks the door between them and leads the way out. The van is parked just outside the gate, and there's a hole broken through the fence.
"Just keep moving." Len says patiently.
"Nah, figured I'd wait to see if the guard dogs are feeling cuddly today." Mick huffed.