Barry Allen: “You're saying I wanted to be tricked.”
Detective Joe West: “You always want to be the person who sees the best in people. I've been a cop for 25 years. All I can see is the flaws, the lies, the dark thoughts that people think I don't see. I wish I could be you. As fast as you are, that is your real power.”
West Turnpike, Indiana; 300 miles from Central City
“I’m leaving. I am going to jump out of this car and go to Central City on my own.” Barry glared from the shotgun seat of the van, his eyes fixed on the dark and highly annoying black span of Leonard Snart’s sunglasses. The man had been wearing the sunglasses for three days. Granted, Leonard, or Cold, was always the one driving and it was bright as hell in the day from all of the snow covering the roads and trees, but it was still unnerving to go so long without seeing a man’s eyes.
The van they were in reminded Barry of Stranger Danger; it was the kind of van a man with ‘candy’ would use to approach kids. A front and back seat, tons of space in the back. Though the back of the van had a mattress and a tiny amount of floorspace, it was mostly full with boxes of food and wood.
It was cramped in the van; and the mileage was Sisyphean. They stopped every four hours to fill the gas tank with some of the gas stored in the small trunk under the floorboards; and every other day the four survivors had to make a venture off to a gas station to refill.
They’d tried going without the van’s air heating so they could spare some gas, but that hadn’t lasted 3 hours before everyone but Cold was complaining nonstop. It was midwinter, probably February, and the weather had been below freezing for almost three weeks straight.
It was unnaturally artic.
The van reminded Barry a bit of a college dorm… in terms of the mess, the mattress with blankets thrown about, plus empty beer and peanut butter cans. Although, no college dorm would have the three, futuristic guns resting in a perch on the side of the van. The guns were on display and ready to be used at a moment’s notice.
Cold had one hand on the wheel and the other lying across the back of Barry’s seat. He was a confident asshole who took every chance to get in Barry’s personal space. “You’re going to run three hundred miles in below freezing weather, Barry,” Cold never wasted an opportunity to say Barry’s name, not since he’d found out, “did you forget that the only reason you’re alive is your bright red suit, Mick’s fire, and my stunning compassion?”
Lisa Snart lay on the mattress in the back of the van, wrapped in six blankets and reading a large book on the history of transmutation. It was obviously not her choice; Cold never wasted an opportunity to ‘give homework’ to Lisa and Mick regarding their powers. Mick was snoring on the floor beside her, an empty six pack of Guinesses at his side and a constant twitch along his back that Barry kept being distracted by in the mirror. Cold drove, because Cold always drove (although he occasionally allowed Lisa and only Lisa to), and he had his arm draped across the back of Barry’s set in this possessive gesture that made Barry uncomfortable.
Lots of things Cold did made Barry uncomfortable. Primarily how it was Lisa, Mick, Barry, and Cold, as if Leonard the name had never existed. Barry wasn’t sure if this made Cold a douche or a nerd; but unless they were out carrying guns and in full fighting gear, no one but Captain Cold went by their costume-names.
Barry wore his Flash clothes, with a large, black long-sleeve shirt over top and a huge, maroon sweatshirt saying “Franklin Sports” over that. He had construction boots, which were currently thrown under his seat, but which he wore every time he was forced to walk outside. He’d nearly lost toes the last time he’d gone outside without them. He looked dumb… a skinny guy in a giant sweatshirt and shoes two sizes too big. Mick looked just as uncomfortable in the cold, at least, though Lisa seemed to just exude poise and grace and Cold looked like a trained artic explorer confidently voyaging across the devil’s dancefloor glacier.
“You didn’t save me out of compassion, Cold. I’m not an idiot so don’t treat me like one.” Barry turned to look out the window. Bright, bright, white snow; it covered everything, if the van didn’t have chains along the tires they wouldn’t have even been moving.
Even though the moving they were doing was a snail’s pace.
“That’s true,” Cold said in his typical low, sardonic tone. Which happened to be the way he always seemed to talk- Barry had originally thought that was just the man’s ‘supervillain’ voice. “I saved you because I knew you’d have to stick with us and you wouldn’t let us die if we did get attacked, every undead survival team needs a runner, and I am full of compassion. The opportunity was rather fateful, don’t you think? You just happened to be freezing to death on a highway in Indiana and my gallery of Rogues just happened to be on our way to our safehouse in Indiana.”
“Your safehouse wasn’t safe.”
Cold shrugged. “I can’t control where the undead happen to hoard, can I?”
“I’m just saying, it had two purposes and really failed at the whole ‘being safe’ thing.”
“And we’re on our way to Central City so I don’t see why you’re starting back up with your empty threats to leave, Barry.” Cold lifted his arm from the back of Barry’s chair for just a moment to adjust his sunglasses, and then it was right back again, resting on Barry’s headrest like they were twelve years old on a date at a movie theater.
“Because I know what you’re thinking. You heard the message in the radio, same as me.” Barry said, referencing to something that had come up last night when Lisa had been running through the radio channels like she always did. Lisa played with the radio each night to try and catch a signal from any survivors in the area, which Barry had privately thought was futile but Cold had encouraged for some reason. Lisa had been right, strangely, and a clear signal had rung out.
“WELCOME, ALL YOU LIVING HUMANS OUT THERE,” an obnoxiously chipper voice had called out, “IF YOU’RE ALIVE AND HEADING UP THE WEST TURNPIKE, TAKE A STOP IN FRYOAK, INDIANA. WE’RE JUST A COLLECTION OF SURVIVORS MEETING TO TRADE, MEET OTHER SURVIVORS, AND RECONNECT WITH HUMAN KIND IN A SAFE ENVIRONMENT. IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING VALUABLE, IF YOU’RE MISSING THE SIGHT OF HUMAN FLESH THAT ISN’T GREY AND DECAYING, COME TO FRYOAK, INDIANA AT THE HOME DEPOT. GET SOME FOOD, DRINK SOME BEER, FIND A CARAVAN TO TRAVEL WITH. WELCOME, ALL YOU LIVING HUMANS-“ the message repeated ad infinitum.
“It’s hardly out of the way. Less than 40 miles. We do need something to eat besides tofu and creamed corn, I think you agree; since you eat like a maniac.” Cold looked at Barry, a bit of a sly frown across his face. “Honestly, I have no idea where all that food goes.”
“I run, but seriously, I know what you’re thinking,” Barry returned Cold’s look.
“Oh? You can mind-read now?”
Barry knew that Cold was just toying with him, playing around the main point until Barry finally said it directly. “You’re going to go and steal from the other survivors.”
Cold chuckled as he turned his eyes back to the road. “Obviously.”
“Well we aren’t going to. I will leave, and you need me.”
“If you insist you aren’t stupid, Barry, than I think you’ve noticed our situation isn’t the best. We were snowed in for three days last week, and the safehouse was emptied of anything we could use. We need supplies.”
“Then we trade for supplies. We can’t steal from other survivors, they need it just as bad as we do.”
Captain Cold, Heat Wave, and Golden Glider. Criminals. Criminals that had tried to kill Barry more than once; and yet when the N DEVICE had gone off and everyone touched by the Mysterious Man in the Black Cloak had turned into…. into zombies, and killed others and turned them into zombies…. Barry had tried to run back to Central City and when he’d nearly died of frostbite from the flashfreeze winter storm, it was the Rogues who’d found him.
They were certainly not the ideal zombie apocalypse team he’d made on Facebook.
“We have nothing to trade. We have some gas, food, medical supplies, and blankets. All things we can’t spare. The only thing we have of value is Lisa.”
Lisa raised her head and said with bored loathing, “No, you don’t.”
“I meant your gold, Lisa,” said Cold. “And no one gives a fuck about arbitrary monetary system now that the world’s gone barter again.”
“I won’t let you steal from the survivors,” Barry said, an edge to his voice that appeared far too often lately.
Cold lifted his sunglasses off his face and looked at Barry. He stared, eyes with dark, tired circles underneath. It was long enough that Barry opened his mouth to say… anything to break the silence before Cold flipped his glasses back on and turned to the road. “We’ll see what happens when we get there.”
“Yeah, we will,” Barry replied.