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Out Cold

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Len sat alone in the cramped if somewhat cozy safe house, tapping his foot on the rung of his stool as he stared at his cold gun lying on the table in front of him. He’d been itching for a new challenge, a heist, an excuse for The Flash to try and thwart his dastardly plans again ever since he double-crossed the speedster.

The metas he’d let loose would no doubt be useful whenever he next needed them—they owed him for their release, after all—but he wanted something smaller to start. Something to remind The Flash of who Captain Cold was and where they stood, but nothing too over-reaching. A crescendo wasn’t any fun if you started at the top; he wanted to build their business relationship toward a worthwhile climax—earned, over time.

A bank job was always fun. Classic. Too easy, occasionally, but Central City had a few creative vaults that made for an interesting challenge, and he’d had his eye on 1st National on Grand Avenue for months.

“I know that look,” came Lisa’s voice from the doorway. She crossed behind him to the kitchen at the far end of the room, carrying groceries.

Len liked how domestic working with his sister made his otherwise all-business lifestyle. He didn’t take care of himself enough, she often chided him; she was always good for groceries and other utilitarian supplies, though he was usually the one who cooked and cleaned. Mick was also often good for a meal. He was a surprisingly talented cook, the one heat-related skill he performed that had yet to end in a fire, which had been a great relief to Lisa the first time she witnessed it. She’d complained to Len that they were about to lose another safe house until the moment dinner turned up on the table unsinged.

“What look is that?” he asked, keeping his eyes trained on his gun.

“The man with a plan look. What are we hitting?” She continued putting away the groceries until everything but some essentials he assumed were for lunch remained on the counter.

From his worktable, Len could see the entirety of the open kitchen plan, the smaller table for eating near the wall, a sofa and simple entertainment setup on the other side of the room, a bathroom near the back—nothing too extravagant. He’d renovated the main office of an old warehouse for this hideout, so that anyone coming to investigate would get bored with all the empty rundown areas of the rest of the building before they thought to check as far back as where Len actually stayed. They had other similar safe houses all over the city, and a few more normal apartments, though those were riskier.

“1st National has been looking a little too secure lately. Perhaps we should knock them down a peg, raid the safe deposit boxes.”

“I thought the tellers there were trained to be trigger happy about tripping the alarm.”

“They are." Len smirked. He glanced up from his gun finally to see Lisa moving toward him, arms crossed. Her lips were pursed, but her eyes danced with amusement.

“Why do you get to play with your obsession whenever the mood strikes, and I’m not allowed to play with mine?” she demanded.

Len stared her down without flinching. “Are you admitting to obsessing over The Flash’s little genius assistant?”

“Are you admitting to obsessing over The Flash?” she shot back.

Len bristled internally but kept his expression neutral. “He’s a worthy opponent. He makes things…interesting. You know I don’t do this for the pretty trinkets or cash, Lisa, I’m interested in something greater.”

“The challenge, the next big score,” she rattled off as if tired of the usual suspects of Len’s monologues. “And are you sure this is only about The Flash being a challenge, Lenny, or are your interests a little more wrapped up in the kid himself than you’re willing to admit?"

Len took a breath to counter her argument, but she pushed on.

“And before you snipe at me, yes. I am a little obsessed with Cisco,” she said curtly, then allowed her lips to relax into a satisfied smile. “He’s cute, smart, sneaks glances at my face more than my ass. It’s nice. Gentlemen are hard to come by in this business.”

“He’s not in this business.”

“Exactly.”

Len sighed. “I’m not allowed to be wary of men you’re interested in?”

“I’d be disappointed if you weren’t, but then I get to do the same for you. You need to get out more, Lenny.” She finished her trek to the tall table and rested her arms next to his cold gun, leaning forward in a way that made most men quiver, but that had the effect in Len of recalling a ten-year-old with pigtails who followed him everywhere.

He was allowed to be protective, damn it.

“I know what I’m getting into—or not getting into—if I try and seduce dear sweet Cisco. What about you? Do you really want to keep playing this game with The Flash when your cold little heart melts every time you see him? You need some normal relationships in your life, Lenny. Mick doesn’t count. I definitely don’t. Who’s the last person you even dated?”

The laundry list of exes for Leonard Snart was just that—a laundry list; short and filled with mundane, distasteful men he would have been better off without. Lisa had already summed it up—gentlemen were hard to come by in this business

“I’m not interested in dating The Flash,” he said pointedly, “I’m just having a little fun at his expense.” The fact that his often red leather-clad form housed a tall, gangly, though also very well-muscled and adorable young man who couldn’t pull off looking serious no matter how hard he pouted his lips and glared with those warm doe eyes, was beside the point.

He doubted Barry Allen was the type who would ever entertain letting off steam in some back alley after one of their rendezvouses, but the possibility had fueled a few winning fantasies for Len late at night. He wasn’t about to admit that to Lisa though, much as she’d probably already guessed.

“It’s just a job,” he insisted.

Lisa lifted a hand to rest her chin on it, batting her eyelashes at him skeptically. “Sure, Lenny, whatever you say, but if I scope out Cisco’s after hour hangouts, I don’t want to hear a word.”

Len glared. He would not agree to that, not until he’d had the chance to vet the kid himself. Gentleman, maybe, but no one got off easy when it came to dating his sister.

XXXXX

So far everything was going exactly as planned. A clerk had hit the silent alarm, with plenty of time for Lisa to bag the good stuff, while Len waited for an appearance of his favorite scarlet speedster. And The Flash didn’t disappoint. They were moments from being ready to hit the exit, when Len felt the wind knocked from him, that exhilarating stomach lurch like starting down from the peak of a rollercoaster, and when he caught his breath, he was no longer in the bank.

The Flash had whisked him off to some secluded warehouse—maybe even one Len had another safe house in—leaving Lisa to finish the job unimpeded, and Len a moment alone with his quarry. It was so very pleasing how predictable The Flash could be, focusing on Len rather than looking for accomplices before he zipped him away from the scene.

Or maybe he was just that pissed. The fire in The Flash’s eyes was hypnotic as Len’s vision refocused on his new surroundings, left to teeter mere feet in front of his nemesis.

“I must leave a lasting impression for you to keep wanting me all to yourself,” he said, cold gun still firmly in his grasp—he’d learned from past mistakes and had it attached by a cord to his wrist cuff, which he’d insisted to Lisa wasn’t anything like how children connected mittens to jackets in the winter. The fact that he wore a parka and goggles in no way made that reference valid.

But Flash clenched his fists. His youthful face was filled with fury Len wasn’t used to. Had he encountered Bivolo again? But no, it couldn’t be the Rainbow Raider, though Len had a suspicion that Flash’s rage had something to do with the meta anyway.

“You really should have waited to show your face again until after I’d had time to cool off from your stunt, Snart,” Flash bit out.

Yep, his recent betrayal had definitely rubbed The Flash the wrong way. Len tried not to shift too nervously in the face of the kid looking so heated and on edge. It was unfairly sexy.

“Did you think I’d take some vacation time instead?” he said. “I’m a businessman, Scarlet, I have quotas to keep.”

A brief spark of yellow lightning was Len’s only warning that The Flash was about to charge rather than banter back, so he fired his gun without aiming. He landed on his ass a moment later from the force of Flash hitting him, but he'd still gotten a shot off. He scrambled to his feet to see that he’d almost struck home too. The Flash was busy holding his side where the cold gun had grazed him enough to at least slow him down.

“You push me to my limits, Flash. That’s good,” Len said as he steadied his footing and his aim. “It forces me to be on my toes, predict what you’ll do. You’ll find I’m not as easy to sneak up on anymore.” He fired a warning shot around The Flash, purposely missing and hitting a section of crumbling wall behind him instead.

The Flash darted to the side and Len followed with his gun. It was almost too easy, since The Flash was slowed as he shook off the burning cold along his side. But, as he moved, he seemed to heal already, the friction of even his lesser super speed enough to melt the ice clinging to his suit.

Len was careful to always aim just a hair too shy or too much ahead of where The Flash would run to, though it meant the building was fairly well iced by the time the sluggish speedster stopped for breath. He still held a hand to his side, but Len could tell he wasn’t nearly as debilitated as he was feigning.

“The first time someone ends up dead because of one of those metas, it’s on you,” The Flash snarled.

“I think you’re forgetting the pilots of the plane they crashed,” Len reminded him.

The Flash howled and charged him again. Len tried something he’d been wanting to do for some time, and simply dropped to his knees, which stung but surprised the blur of The Flash enough that he toppled over Len and rolled into the wall behind him.

Len shot back up to his feet and spun around, firing his gun at the walkway positioned above The Flash’s head. It teetered and creaked, but didn’t fall, just as Len wanted. Shots from his cold gun were one thing—The Flash had healed from that before. But Len only wanted to let The Flash know what he was up against; he didn’t want to actually injure his opponent. That would spoil the fun.

“Are you really so upset that I turned on you, or just mad at yourself for being foolish enough to trust me in the first place?” Len asked, sauntering closer to where The Flash was sprawled. He knew the speedster would be up in moments, his side thawed now, with no true sign of pain on his face, just a look of biding his time until he could get one over on Len.

“Don’t think I’ll make the same mistake again,” Flash said, his voice rumbling unfamiliarly. It made Len shiver within the hidden confines of his parka.

“That’s a shame, Barry,” he said, purposely using his foe’s real name as he crouched down close enough that he could reach out and touch his opponent if he chose. “I kind of enjoyed playing nice. Maybe next time you can get the drop on me instead. It could be fun.”

“Even if I did agree to work with you again, I’d never betray you like that,” The Flash said with venom on his tongue. “I am nothing like you, Snart.”

That was part of what Len loved about him. He smirked, even though something a little colder than usual settled in his gut. “No, you really—”

The walkway above creaked loudly and Len looked up. The ice had broken down the integrity of the metal too much. It was falling. If it fell, the jagged edges would crush Barry, maybe worse. He rose and backpedaled.

“Better move out of the way, Scarlet,” he said, struggling not to be too obvious with his concern.

Slowly—and oh how agonizing it was when The Flash moved slow on purpose—the speedster stood, but he didn’t move from his spot. “You think I’d fall for that?”

“Flash, it isn’t a trick, you—”

“Weren’t you just telling me how naïve I was for trusting you before?"

"Do you want to be crushed?" Len kept himself from darting forward but the walkway was teetering precariously and could snap and fall at any moment. If The Flash just looked up and saw the danger, he could move out of the way in seconds.

Never cry wolf, flashed in Len's head, but he wasn't about to admit a mistake. He did everything with purpose; there wasn't room for regrets.

"You kept insisting,” The Flash said, disappointment and thicker emotion coating his anger now. “Made yourself sound so sincere. We had the same goals. Why would you betray us? But that's just the thing. You probably don't even know how to be honest with someone anymore."

"I'm being honest with you now! Look up!"

It was falling; it was going to fall, but the creaking was so consistent that The Flash refused to believe it meant anything serious. He was going to get hurt just because he wouldn't listen to Len and run like he was built to!

"Flash!"

"Half of me thought making a deal with the devil was just part of the job, but the other half honestly wanted to believe there was some part of you that was decent. Joke's on me, right?"

Len had watched so many people die, he'd killed people with his own hands, but he couldn't watch that frozen metal heap of sharp corners make a bloody mess out of this do-gooder, innocent kid.

The Flash wasn't going to look, and Len was out of time.

It dropped... "Damn it, Barry!" …and Len threw himself forward as the metal gave an earsplitting shriek when it gave way and came crashing down.

The Flash was stunned enough that he didn't know how to react, merely went down with Len hard as the walkway landed on top of them with a deafening clang.

XXXXX

It didn’t matter how much his connection to the Speed Force meant he also had a healing factor—pain still hurt, and getting the wind knocked out of him still sucked.

Barry gasped for breath, coughing through the spasm of dust swirling around him from whatever had just fallen from the ceiling. Cold hadn’t been lying; Barry was such an idiot.

“Snart…” he choked out, blinking past the haze and waiting for his vision to clear. It was easier to focus on the weight on top of him at first, and eventually he could make out disjointed beams and metal grating covered in ice resting only inches from his face. In his defense, this was all Cold’s fault.

“Snart…” he called again, but when he tried to move, looking down the full length of his body as he took in the entirety of what had crushed him, he realized that the metal wasn’t the only thing there—Cold’s body was sprawled across him, pinned between Barry and the walkway that had fallen. And he wasn’t moving.

“Snart!” Barry called more urgently, pushing up against the heavy weight of both Cold and the tangled metal. Cold still didn’t move or give any signs of consciousness.

Barry told himself to stay calm, to take the time to visually check for injuries on his companion first before he did something foolish like try to move Cold when it was possible he’d been impaled by one of the beams.

Allowing himself a moment to really look, Barry noted how the metal surrounded them. There didn’t appear to be any beams angled right to be literally through Cold, or through him, it was just a heavy heap. Still, Cold’s head rested on Barry’s chest, having taken the brunt of the blow when the walkway fell, proven by the smear of blood coming from a nasty looking cut on the back of his dark blond head. He’d been knocked out cold.

Barry snorted despite himself.

“If you were just honest with me from the beginning, I would have believed you when you tried to warn me,” he grumbled, lying back again and using his arms to push up at the metal at an angle with the least resistance. Thank goodness for increased strength. Finally, it started to give way.

Normally, he’d call for backup in a situation like this, but Caitlin and Cisco had both gone home early because he’d promised he wasn’t going to patrol tonight. He needed a night off too on occasion. But then Barry had heard about the bank robbery, and although it was something the police could easily have handled without him, he hadn’t been able to resist when he realized it was Captain Cold.

“Of course if you had been honest with me, we wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with,” Barry groaned, and after a final heave, the jumbled metal of the walkway flew off of them and crashed into the floor a few yards away.

Barry immediately used his speed to flash out from under Cold as seamlessly as possible, grabbing hold of him at the same time to ease the other man to the floor and carefully turn him over onto his back. His goggles made it difficult to tell if he was really out, so Barry pulled them down to Cold’s neck and found that his eyes were indeed closed. Turned like this though, with his bleeding wound hidden at the back of his head, Barry could almost believe Cold was merely sleeping.

He checked Cold’s pulse. Steady. Thank god. “Snart? Come on, wake up. I’m sorry I didn’t listen, okay, but you didn’t exactly give me any reason to trust you. Snart!”

Barry didn’t dare shake him, not if he had a concussion, but he couldn’t just speed him to a hospital. They’d arrest him as soon as he was healed, and Cold would be pissed; he’d probably spill Barry’s secret right there out of spite.

“Why did you do that, huh?” Barry said, staring down into Cold’s face, which looked smooth and younger, and so perfectly symmetrical and male model pretty. Barry wanted to sneer at it, but he found himself appreciating the rare moment to just look and enjoy how handsome Cold was without risk of the other man catching him.

The few men who had caught Barry’s eye over the years had always looked like this—usually asshole jocks who thought he was nothing but a skinny geek. Clearly, falling for Iris had been the final icing on the spoiled cake to prove how poor his judgment was in potential partners. Always reaching for people he couldn’t, shouldn’t have…

Barry shook himself of such foolish thoughts. Cold was the last person he should be crushing on just because the guy was hot, especially now. He was a jerk. A liar. A thief. Even a killer.

And he’d probably just saved Barry’s life.

“If you weren’t lying there unconscious, I’d think this was another trick. You can’t die on me when you finally had a moment of actual heroics, Snart,” Barry implored him, bringing his face close to Cold’s, his gloved hands on either side of the other man’s cheeks, but nothing changed the fact that he wasn’t waking up.

Barry gathered Cold in his arms as snugly as he could, hoping he could run fast enough that it wouldn’t jostle him too much. The only option he had was to take Cold to S.T.A.R. Labs.

They were there in under a minute, but every second felt doubled for Barry. Cisco had built a keycard into the Flash suit, so he never had to do anything more than try a door to get inside the building at all hours, which also activated the lights. By the time he had Cold inside the main part of the research lab, the last of the lights were flickering on to greet him.

He gently placed Cold on the same hospital bed he’d spent far too much time on, careful to pull the oversized parka off of him as he did so, in order to better check him for additional wounds. When the parka hit the floor—Barry cared more about not hurting Cold than the coat—it clanked loudly. Once he had Cold laid back, he bent down and found the cold gun attached to the parka’s sleeve.

“Wow, you resorted to kindergarten logic to thwart me?” Barry had to smile a little. He picked up the jacket and gun, and set them on the nearby table.

When he turned back, he stuttered in his step, which still happened way more often than it should when he had super speed. Cold just looked so…vulnerable? Like some poor, normal guy who needed Barry’s help; not the supervillain Barry knew him to be; the diabolical and often, well, cold-hearted criminal. But he’d saved Barry when he could have stood back to save himself. That had to count for something.

The reality of Cold still being unconscious and Barry having no idea what to do about it caught back up with him. It was before 6pm. He was allowed to call for help, from a variety of sources. He had degrees in Biology and Chemistry, but that didn’t mean he was an expert in the medical field. He had to call the others.

He hovered near the bed a moment, willing Cold to just wake up and be okay, but waiting any longer could put the man’s life in danger, and Barry wasn’t willing to risk that, not because he’d been too stubborn to listen and was the reason for Cold even lying there.

He turned to speed off and find his clothes, where his cell phone was tucked safely away, but before he could kick into gear, he gasped at the feeling of a tight grip on his wrist. He whirled around to find Cold’s pale blue eyes staring at him wide and panicked.

“Where am I?” Cold croaked, shaking like he was freezing, or like he might suddenly be nauseous and throw up. “What’s…going on?”

“It’s okay,” Barry said before he could think of anything else. He turned back around fully and put his other hand over Cold’s that still clung tightly to his wrist. Then he realized he was still in The Flash suit and took his hand away so he could pull back the mask. “It’s okay, it’s just me. Barry.”

Cold’s eyes narrowed on him, blinking tightly as if he couldn’t see straight. “Who…?”

“Barry.” Barry waited a moment, assuming Cold’s vision was just blurry, but when the other man continued to stare at him blankly, he added, “Allen? The Flash?

The only reaction was Cold’s eyes travelling gaugingly down Barry’s body and widening at the sight of the skin-tight suit, which made Barry feel far more exposed than it should have and he fought to keep any color from rising in his cheeks.

He swallowed thickly. “It’s okay, really, just give yourself a moment. You hit your head. Or…something hit you. A lot of something hit you, and I don’t even know if you have any broken bones or other wounds, so just…stay lying back and take a few deep breaths, okay?”

Despite the fear that remained when Cold’s eyes drifted up to meet Barry’s again, he nodded, laid back, and eventually released Barry’s wrist. He breathed as instructed, and Barry took his own advice to slow his racing pulse.

“Good,” Barry said, once they were both calmed. “Now just take it slow. You probably have a concussion, so bear with me and focus. What year is it?”

Cold gave him a very familiar ‘are you fucking with me right now’ look, which filled Barry with a wave of relief.

“I said bear with me, all right?” Barry insisted.

Cold sighed. “2015.”

“What city are we in?”

“Central City. I hope.”

“We are,” Barry assured him. “Who’s the president of the United States?”

“Barack Obama,” Cold said mechanically.

“Good. And who am I?”

“You just told me who you are,” Cold said with skepticism cocooned in a perfectly sculpted eyebrow raise, as if Barry was the one with the head injury.

“Oh. Right, yeah, okay, that obviously wouldn’t work, so…who are you?” he asked instead, figuring that was probably enough questions anyway.

But he was greeted by silence. He searched Cold’s face for a scowl, another skeptical look, for the usual snark and smug confidence to get thrown back in his face, but he found terror again, a distant look in Cold’s eyes, with his lips slightly parted as he fought for an answer that honestly wasn’t there.

Blue eyes finally focused on Barry again with a clear sign of no recognition.

Shit, Barry thought. “That wasn’t supposed to be the stumper.”

TBC...